HIV breakthrough: UNMC medical research results in new medication

Researchers worked on the injectable for 16 years
Benson Edagwa, Ph.D., photographed in the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science...
Benson Edagwa, Ph.D., photographed in the Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.(Kent Sievers | Kent Sievers)
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Breakthrough medical research could change the lives of people living with HIV.

Twelve years ago, Tommy Dennis noticed something was off.

“I didn’t have the flu or anything. I had these weird outbreaks on my face,” said Tommy Dennis, Nebraska Aids Project Outreach Coordinator.

Eventually, Dennis was diagnosed with HIV. Every day he takes a pill; but with that pill comes worry.

“For me personally I just think about, there’s always this fear as a person living with a chronic illness, living with HIV that oh, I’m running off leaving my pill or I didn’t take it at my scheduled time.”

Now, research from UNMC could end that worry.

The team here has been studying a medicine that’s an effective oral treatment turned into a shot. Something people living with HIV would only have to take once a year.

Researchers say that could take the human error out of the treatments patients now take.

“Since we are dealing with a chronic disease that can not be cured any lapse in medicines will mean that the virus can grow, it can mutate, and the disease can be made much worse,” said Dr. Howard Gendelman, UNMC Larson professor of internal medicine and infectious diseases.

Research on this injectable has been ongoing for 16 years now.

And UNMC is seeing massive success. The drug has been effective in animals. Clinical trials in humans are set to start in 2023.

Dennis says the research is giving him hope for not only himself but for millions of other people.

“That is huge and I think honestly once we are able to educate people about it once it’s out there, I think more people will be prone to getting the cure.”

Scientists say the technology could also help in the fight against other infectious diseases like tuberculosis and hepatitis.

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