UAB celebrates World AIDS Day 2016 and 30 years of research in the clinical trials network

Three decades of clinical trials have changed the face of HIV/AIDS.
As the year draws to a close, UAB News looks back at some of the top stories of 2016. See them all here.


michael saag aids day“UAB continues to advance the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS,” said Michael Saag, M.D., founder of the UAB 1917 Clinic and director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research.The AIDS Clinical Trials Group Network and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 1917 Clinic celebrate 30 years of AIDS research Dec. 2, just one day after World AIDS Day 2016.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States; globally, the number is a staggering 35 million.

UAB’s 1917 Clinic is a member of the largest AIDS clinical trials group in the world, with 34 domestic and 25 international sites. Over the past three decades, UAB has contributed to the great progress that has been made in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Tools developed to study HIV/AIDS have helped in shaping our response to emerging threats like SARS, Ebola, bird flu and the Zika virus. Studies on HIV/AIDS and its complications have contributed to our understanding and treatment of obesity, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and cancer.

“UAB continues to advance the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of HIV/AIDS,” said Michael Saag, M.D., founder of the UAB 1917 Clinic and director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research. “Our researchers continue to push the envelope in discovering as much as we can about the disease, but there is still much work to be done and research to be conducted.”

Safe, effective and convenient treatments are now available to restore people living with HIV/AIDS to health and prolong life. Although treatment is effective, it is expensive and requires patients to take their medication every day for the rest of their lives.

“We need to continue to improve therapies and strive to find a cure, so that patients won’t need to take medications for life,” said E. Turner Overton, M.D., co-director of the Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic and medical director of the UAB 1917 Clinic. “We continue to work toward a cure and are beginning to see encouraging results.”

Although medication can prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, a safe and effective vaccine is needed to bring the epidemic to an end. The clinical trials conducted across the ACTG Network all contribute to this effort.

“Most people have heard the story of the HIV/AIDS activists in the 1980s and 1990s and the lack of assistance from the government, but what many have not heard is the crucial role AIDS clinical trial research played in bringing us to where we are today,” Overton said.

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