HIV drug side-effects to go under the microscope

The unforeseen health problems for long-term HIV sufferers due to their anti-retro viral drugs are to be examined as part of a €13.5m medical research funding drive.

State body the Health Research Board confirmed the project will be included alongside studies focusing on cancer, pneumonia, and the road to universal health insurance during a high-profile meeting yesterday.

Speaking at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in central Dublin, HRB chief executive Graham Love said the fund will be split between 36 studies into a range of health issues over the next five years.

While Mr Love admitted some people may feel the money could be put to better use in frontline services, he stressed the projects are “not just research for research’s sake, they are about implementation”.

Pointing to the HIV initiative in particular, the senior officials said the studies have the potential to provide real-life improvement to vulnerable people’s health.

The HIV research is being led by UCD expert and consultant in infectious diseases at the Mater Hospital, Patrick Mallon, and will look at preventing osteoporosis and other difficulties in long-term HIV sufferers.

Dr Mallon said that, due to the anti-retro viral drugs they take to fight the illness, HIV sufferers are more prone to bone loss and reduced bone density.

Among the other projects is a study by Trinity College researcher Juliette Hussey, examining how people recover from surgery for throat cancer, both physically and emotionally.

The 36 projects were selected out of 190 applications and will get between €330,000 and €800,000 over the five years.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said the focus on research is key to moving the health service forward.


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