In this health video learn how 40 million people worldwide suffer from AIDS. Now, two new drugs have been approved that could mean lifesaving options for these patients
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Jennifer Matthews: Gary Saddler took time off from his high-paying, high stress job in banking to work full-time educating others about AIDS and HIV infection. Thirteen years ago, Gary tested positive. Gary Saddler: At that time, it was a true death sentence because the medications were not as effective as they are today. Jennifer Matthews: In 1996, patients began using a combination of anti-retroviral drugs, designed to keep the disease at bay. There are more than 20 AIDS drugs available in four separate classes, meaning the drugs work in one of four different ways. But for thousands of patients, HIV treatment is failing because the virus has developed resistance to those drugs. Gary Saddler: And oftentimes, the virus can develop resistance to one drug and it confers cross-resistance to all other drugs within that group. Jennifer Matthews: That's why experts say new options are crucial. They're hailing the development of two new drugs, each of which represents a new class of HIV drugs. Isentress is the first in a new class of drugs called integrase inhibitors. Taken twice a day, Isentress is designed to work by blocking an enzyme that allows HIV to insert viral DNA into the DNA of a person's immune cell. Another drug, Selzentry, blocks a protein on the immune system cells that HIV sometimes uses as an entryway. Experts say one drug or the other would be taken in combination with existing AIDS drugs. Gary Saddler is healthy now. But if his current cocktail ever starts to fail him. Gary Saddler: There is always the possibility that the disease can start moving forward. Jennifer Matthews: He says it's good to know there are other drugs on the horizon. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.