Volume 4 Number 1 January/February 2003
The New Year, traditionally a time to look back and review achievements and acknowledge goals unmet, but also a time to look forward and institute change. This particular New Year welcomes a change for HIV i-Base and our “ HIV Treatment Bulletin” publication. It accompanies a change in focus for myself, the editor, Paul Blanchard.
I have been involved with i-Base since it was formed in April 2000 by the former publications, editorial and meetings team from the AIDS Treatment Project (ATP). Myself, Raffi Babakhanian and David Campbell-Morrison founded ATP back in the pre-Vancouver days of 1996 spurred on by Mike Youle who highlighted the need for a UK treatment activist organisation.
I myself had initiated HAART in March 1996 after many years of antiretroviral scepticism (fuelled by personal observations of the effects of AZT on friends, the Concorde study results and the black days of the Berlin International Conference on AIDS). Reports were filtering through of some exciting new drugs, the protease inhibitors, and faced with a diagnosis of pulmonary KS and a CD4 count of zero it was either continued scepticism plus radio- and chemotherapy or a leap into the unknown.
The rest is, as they say, history. My miraculous recovery from the jaws of death was mirrored in others who were fortunate enough to gain early, compassionate access to these drugs. Mikes concern for improved access and knowledge about these advances, the lack of a UK community based organisation led by the HIV-infected, and the widespread conservatism and inertia of UK physicians and HIV commissioners – mono and dual therapy being widespread practice in the UK way past the Vancouver conference, were the driving force behind our efforts.
Raffi and David lobbied the pharmaceutical industry and organised meetings, I developed our first publication “Dr Fax”, a fortnightly faxed newsletter of treatment advances and drug access issues. This went on over four years to evolve, with the change of organisation, into HTB as you know it today.
What you may not know, however, is how all of this happened on a “wing and a prayer” – no statutory recognition, short term on/off funding from pharmaceutical companies and our own struggles with infection, chronic ill health and treatment. I myself continued to maintain a full-time post in teaching throughout these years and it is here, in my “real job” as I call it that changes have led to the hand over of HTB.
The development of an osteopathic healthcare clinic for HIV-infection and the opportunity for PhD studies have proved incompatible with the burden of work associated with HTB and Simon Collins a regular contributor to HTB and veteran commentator on HIV treatment issues is taking over the reigns. With an editorial team including Graham McKerrow and Polly Clayden, Simon will continue the style and direction of HTB. I also hope to be a regular contributor on neurology and issues related to manual therapies, so I won’t be leaving the gang all together.
This, my last issue as editor, contains extensive reports from the recent congress in Glasgow as well as the usual round-up of treatment news. We also include a feedback questionnaire to help you to inform us about your experience of HTB and any changes you might welcome. As long as challenges exist for both patients and physicians in coping with HIV and it’s treatment, HTB and i-Base will continue to publish pertinent information to facilitate management and care. So until it is truly realistic to call HIV-infection a chronic manageable disease read on. Finally I would like to thank our team of medical consultants, especially Graeme Moyle and Stefan Mauss, and our fund raiser extraordinaire Polly Clayden whose dedication and hard work lightened the load.