What Do You Consider to Be the Top Medical Advances of the Past 20 Years?

Ryan Syrek, Editor


May 27, 2015

Molecular diagnostics: These tests have revolutionized the diagnosis and management of HIV, hepatitis C, influenza, tuberculosis, Clostridium difficile, pertussis, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, along with dozens of other infections.

HCV treatments: HCV was discovered in 1989. The initial treatments required prolonged administration of interferon and were associated with cure rates of less than 50%. Current interferon-free treatments now have cure rates of more than 90%.

Discovery of new pathogens: Newly described pathogens include coronaviruses (the cause of Middle East respiratory syndrome and Southeast Asia respiratory syndrome), multiple Ehrlichia species, and human herpesvirus 8 as the cause of Kaposi sarcoma.

HAART for HIV disease: More than 30 HIV medications are now available from six different classes, including four different one-pill-a-day combinations. Life expectancy for people living with HIV is now similar to that of the general population.

The development of new vaccines: Vaccines developed in the past 20 years include conjugate vaccines for pneumococcus and meningococcus; rotavirus; HPV; live-attenuated influenza virus; herpes zoster; tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap); and hepatitis A.

Top infectious disease advancements selected by Thomas E. Herchline, MD, Professor of Medicine, Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio; Medical Director, Public Health, Dayton and Montgomery counties, Ohio.

For more on HAART in HIV, read here.


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