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Ann Oncol. 2011 Nov;22 Suppl 7:vii50-vii53. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdr426.

The impact of HIV research on health outcome and healthcare policy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, CA, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) have shown an almost unique linkage between biomedical research and improved healthcare outcomes. A transformation has been seen between 1981 when AIDS was a rapidly fatal condition, to the present dramatic survival prolongation. HIV infection is a chronic illness requiring ongoing modern therapy. Parallels and interactions between HIV research and cancer research are close. The ability of novel therapies to suppress HIV replication and restore host immunity has decreased the incidence and progression of cancers in HIV patients. The rapid application of new knowledge to patient care and health policy in HIV has key lessons for other disease areas. Patient and Public Involvement has been influential in research activity and funding. The availability of laboratory markers of disease has been central to the successful application of novel HIV therapies. Active development and management of cooperative large-scale clinical trials supported by advocacy groups was influential. HIV investigators have been at the forefront of identifying cost-effective treatments that can be widely applied. The science, clinical research and political response to the HIV epidemic offer a model generalizable to other serious diseases. Opportunities to share the experiences and lessons learned from HIV should be sought, particularly in the cancer research community.

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