Over 20,000 Cases
Over 20,000 individuals in the U.S. have been diagnosed as having AIDS, and AIDS experts predict that the number of cases will reach 179,000 by 1991.
Currently, the hospital treats 30 inpatients at a cost of $1,050 per patient per day. One hundred and twenty outpatients paid $500 for their initial evaluation and about $250 for each subsequent visit.
“The opportunities the Institute offers for AIDS diagnosis, research and treatment can’t be calculated,” said Dr. Peter W. A. Mansell, the Institute’s medical director. “A totally dedicated hospital may be just what we need to make progress with this disease.”
The Institute is exploring the efficacy of experimental antiviral and immunorestorative drugs on AIDS patients. As a result, a multi-faceted treatment approach is being taken. Immune modulators such as azimexon, copovithane, recombinant interleukin-2 (IL-2), glucan and Imreg 1 are being evaluated, and future treatments with ampligen, isoprinosine and bone marrow transplants are planned.
Antiviral agents under investigation include sodium suramin and ribavirin; ampligen and AZT are scheduled for use soon. Alpha interferon with and without low dose vinblastine, and low dose infusion chemotherapy with bleomycin/vinblastine are being employed against Kaposi’s sarcoma and other malignancies; future treatments will include beta and gamma interferons, AZT, and ribavirin.
Potential therapies for the various opportunistic infections associated with AIDS (such as Pneumocystis pneumonia, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis) and the neuropsychiatric complications of AIDS are also being looked at. Miscellaneous studies on the nutritional requirements of AIDS patients and on the use of prophylactic antibiotics are being carried out as well.
The Institute assigns each patient a social worker and also maintains an outpatient program. Although the first individuals to enter the Institute were from the Southwest, there are no geographic barriers to admission. As their primary criterion for patient admission, the Institute’s officials determine whether a given individual might benefit from the particular experimental protocol under way at the facility.
“People are already lining up to get in,” an AMI spokesman, Mick Taylor, told GEN. Taylor added that there were plans to expand the scope of the Institute’s services by eventually treating a whole range of immunological disorders in addition to AIDS. These would include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and myasthenia gravis.
Such plans might be considered overly ambitious by Terrence A. Curley, the Institute’s executive director. He told GEN that he already sees a need to develop the Institute’s immunology and virology laboratories further and to expand the clinical labs just to treat the AIDS patients. He wondered how well the requirements of the Institute had been costed out.
“It appears that the capital commitment will be larger than was anticipated,” Curley said.