When CRI was established in 1989, AZT was the only antiretroviral drug available to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Today there are over 30 FDA-approved HIV antiviral drugs, and CRI’s clinical research has contributed to the FDA approval of nearly all of them.
CRI’s research has helped make HIV medications safer and more effective. People living with HIV/AIDS can stay healthy longer, and treatment can dramatically reduce the chance of transmission to others.
In 2013, CRI began addressing another urgent need in the HIV community: effective treatment of hepatitis C (HCV). An estimated twenty-five percent of individuals living with HIV in the U.S. are also infected with HCV, an infectious disease of the liver that attacks the body in similar ways as HIV. Left untreated, HCV can lead to liver failure, liver cancer, and premature death. Co-infection with HIV more than triples these risks. CRI lent its nearly 25 years of HIV treatment expertise to initially research how to treat HCV mono-infection, and then moved on to research whether the same treatment would be effective in individuals co-infected with HCV and HIV. The results of both studies were outstanding, and have shown that most people (both mono-infected and co-infected) can be cured of HCV in just 12 weeks with a single pill, taken once a day.
However, even with all of the powerful treatments currently available, we still face challenges. Some people living with HIV simply do not respond well to these drugs. Others who have been on medications for many years worry about long-term toxicity or experience debilitating side effects. Those with both HIV and HCV may face challenges accessing these vital medications. For these reasons, CRI remains focused on answering the latest challenges and finding new treatment options that will work for everyone.
As part of CRI’s mission to provide access to the highest quality HIV treatments, CRI has managed the Massachusetts HIV Drug Assistance Program (HDAP) since 1990. HDAP is a program of the Office of HIV/AIDS of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and currently serves over 7,000 patients, ensuring that medications and health insurance are available to HIV-positive individuals in need across Massachusetts. During 2014, HDAP also deployed its Insurance/Benefits Resource Team, which has been providing training and technical assistance to both clients and providers as they navigate the often-confusing array of health insurance coverage options.