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Budget Cuts May Jeopardize HIV Cure Research

Update Date: Mar 05, 2013 01:54 PM EST

The recent medical breakthrough regarding an HIV-infected toddler being cured from the virus this Sunday is an optimistic step for AIDS and HIV researchers (Baby Cured of HIV for First Time, A Medical Breakthrough). Although the two-year-old girl is considered cured, doctors do not know if the virus will show up again later on in her life and thus, research into this 'cure' is vital. However, based on recent budget cuts across the board from the sequester, research for HIV cures and treatments may be severely damaged.

According to CNN Money, the sequester will lead to major budget cuts for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which states that it will lose $1.6 billion of the original $31 billion budget that it was allotted previously. Although the budget appears to still be huge, funding medical research can get pricey really fast and thus, every single dollar can help. Since the NIH is the biggest funder for biomedical research in the United States, this budget cut will inevitably hurt HIV research.

The recent HIV "cure" was funded by the NIH and the Foundation of AIDS Research (amfAR). The vice president of public policy for amfAR, Chris Collins, expressed his concerns over these budget cuts that came at such an unfortunate and inopportune time since research into HIV has taken a new step with this cure.

"As we've heard this exiting news about cure research, the entire AIDS research field is experiencing a significant cutback. If we were in the business of ending AIDS, this would be the time to invest, no pull our resources out," Collins stated. Not only will the sequester cut costs for new research, it will also cut funding for long term studies that will need the financial means to continue. The NIH and researchers are also afraid that the budget cuts will prevent new research from even starting.

The drug combination used by doctors included GlaxoSmithKline's epivir, Boehringer Ingelhim's Vvramune, and Ranbazy Laboratories' zidovudine, along with several other generic drugs. This combination, estimated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases under the NIH, for one patient alone can costs anywhere from $15,000 to $18,000. Although budget cuts may be inevitable, the effects they will have will be felt throughout the whole field of science and medical research. 

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