Tonight on the NewsHour: Dr. Anthony Fauci on revelations for HIV treatment

BY Murrey Jacobson  March 6, 2014 at 5:18 PM EDT

It’s been an interesting week in the field of AIDS research.

There’s been talk about potentially giving people quarterly shots or injections instead of daily pills, gene therapy to fight off HIV, and an infected baby that was treated so aggressively with AIDS drugs within hours of its birth that HIV can no longer be detected. Scientists in Boston have been meeting at an annual conference and have been discussing these early, but important new findings.

Tonight, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, talks with Senior Correspondent Jeffrey Brown about those developments, the promise and possible limitations.

When we spoke with Dr. Fauci earlier today, he particularly saw real promise with the idea of people being able to take shots in the arm someday, instead of oral medication. The idea is to change the way so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis works. Currently, people take smaller doses of anti-retroviral drugs to prevent infections, but there’s a problem with making sure people do it all the time. And that’s what excited Fauci about the new work:

“We know from a couple of years of experience that when you give pre-exposure prophylaxis, it works 90 percent of the time at protecting against infection,” he said. “But when you do follow-up and look at the data over time, it only looks like 44 percent effective. Why is that the case? Because adherence is critical. The issue is many people don’t take their medicine every day. So, if you can do this so that people don’t have to take daily pills, that you can give them an injectable drug or drugs every few months instead, you could have a phenomenal impact on the prevention of HIV infection. It could be a real game changer.”