In 1981, HIV was infecting and killing tens of thousands of people. By 1985, scientists were able to develop and commercialize a blood test that did two things: it determined if someone had been infected with HIV, and it assessed how much damage HIV had done to the immune system. This test helped identify a medicine that blocked one route that HIV used to take over the immune system.
Within two short years, under pressure from HIV patients and advocates, new drugs were developed and approved by the FDA that radically improved outcomes.
Between 1995 and 1998, four new HIV medicines were introduced to block other HIV pathways. These medicines were combined to create an anti-HIV 'cocktail' for each individual. By 1998, deaths from HIV dropped by 90 percent and 15 new drugs followed. The good news is that in the United States today, HIV is a treatable disease, not a death sentence.
How can we achieve the same sense of urgency to speed up the development of new cancer treatments?
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