With ‘Hawaii to Zero,’ UH doctors working to find cure to AIDS

The University of Hawaii is taking part in HIV research to find a cure.
The University of Hawaii is taking part in HIV research to find a cure.(HAWAII NEWS NOW)
Updated: Dec. 1, 2018 at 3:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine is racing to find a cure to eliminate AIDS.

One of the advances in medicine that JABSOM doctors are touting, but many people don’t know about, is a blue pill called Truvada.

Taken once a day, a healthy person who has sex with someone infected with HIV can protect themselves from getting the disease by nearly 100 percent.

First approved for the treatment of HIV, Truvada is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to prevent HIV infection for people in high risk groups.

“Men who have sex with men, they have the highest risk. One in 11 of men who have sex with men in their lifetime will get HIV,” said Dr. Dominic Chow, Medical Director for UH’s Clint Spencer Clinic.

“It’s a big problem and taking this medication called Truvada can reduce the risk to zero,” Chow added.

Chow says preventing HIV is just as important as the race to find a cure.

UH is also part of a promising New York study that involves an intestinal drug already being used for bowel conditions. Chow says this is just one of dozens of drug trials where scientists are seeking a cure.

“This is a good competition that will actually result in curing and eradicating this epidemic, which plagues 40 million people worldwide,” Chow said.

There’s also an initiative called Hawaii to Zero with a goal of of zero stigma, infections and deaths.

Dr. Cecillia Shikuma, director for the Hawaii Center for AIDS, says it is possible to eradicate HIV.

“Hawaii actually has very low incidence of new HIV infection so low that we think it’s possible to drive new HIV infection to zero and then subsequently as HIV cure research progresses to really cure everyone of HIV,” Shikuma said.

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