Anthony S. Fauci

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Lisa Sterman holds up a Truvada pill at her office in San Francisco in 2012. The pill helps prevent HIV from infecting people. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)

In the summer of 1981, the world became aware of a mysterious new disease that was seen initially among a relatively small group of gay men in the United States and was soon shown to be caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. Fast- forward more than 30 years, and the entire world is struggling with one of the most devastating pandemics in history. More than 70 million infections have occurred, predominantly among heterosexuals in the developing world, resulting in more than 30 million deaths. Despite these horrendous statistics, advances in HIV treatment and prevention have transformed the lives of those HIV-infected people who have access to health care, and have provided us with highly effective methods of preventing HIV infection.…  Seguir leyendo »

Adeadly influenza virus has circulated widely in birds in recent years, decimating flocks but rarely spreading to humans. Nonetheless, because of its persistence in bird flocks, this highly pathogenic virus has loomed as a major public health threat. Seasonal influenza kills less than 1 percent of the people it infects. In contrast, human infections with the H5N1 virus, though exceedingly rare, are fatal in most cases. Should this virus mutate in a way that allows it to be transmitted as efficiently among people as seasonal influenza viruses are, it could take an unprecedented toll on human life.

A number of important scientific and public health questions regarding this virus remain unanswered, including the likelihood of such mutations arising and the mechanisms by which they may occur.…  Seguir leyendo »

Three decades ago, the June 5, 1981, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported on five previously healthy young gay men in Los Angeles diagnosed with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), an infectious disease usually seen only in people with profoundly impaired immune function. As a specialist in infectious diseases and immunology, I had cared for several people with PCP whose immune systems had been weakened by cancer chemotherapy. I was puzzled about why otherwise healthy young men would acquire this infection. And why gay men? I was concerned, but mentally filed away the report as a curiosity.

One month later, the MMWR wrote about 26 cases in previously healthy gay men from Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, who had developed PCP as well as an unusual form of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nearly 30 years after the first cases were recognized in the United States, HIV/AIDS remains an incurable disease that is devastating large swaths of our country and the rest of the world. To understand the magnitude of the destruction, look around our nation's capital. Last month, D.C. health officials announced that 3 percent of city residents had full-blown AIDS or were infected with HIV. Not only is that infection rate on a par with rates in some African countries, but the D.C. data were based only on those who have been tested for HIV; the actual rate is probably much higher.…  Seguir leyendo »