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Conservative radio talk-show host David Brudnoy, who is HIV-positive, said yesterday that he has raised $1 million so far in a fund-raising initiative for AIDS research at two of Harvard's teaching hospitals.
The three-year initiative is aimed at raising $10 million for the recently created Partners AIDS Research Center, which combines the AIDS research efforts of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Brudnoy says he is optimistic, but cautious, about the effort. "The first million is always easy. It's hard to raise money, but publicity feeds upon itself. I hope it will be good in the long run."
Brudnoy, who hosts a show on WBZ-AM 1030, was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. He was treated at MGH two years ago for an AIDS-induced coma.
"During my recovery I began to think, 'What can I do to profit aids research from my experience?' so I decided to create a fund for AIDS research," Brudnoy said in an interview.
Brudnoy, who received his masters degree from Harvard, also battled pneumonia and cardiomyopathy and at one point lost the ability to walk.
"I kept denying to myself I was really really sick," said Brudnoy of his experience with HIV. "Finally, I collapsed...I was at death's door. The doctors said that I had 20 minutes to live."
Six months ago, Brudnoy began the new drug "cocktail" regimen involving the use of three different drugs.
The results have been dramatic. According to Brudnoy's primary AIDS physician in a Boston Globe report, the amount of HIV particles present in Brudnoy's blood have decreased by about 800 times.
"I literally owe my life to the Massachusetts General Hospital and my ability to walk to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Working for this fund is just a tiny act of appreciation to everyone who participated in my care," Brudnoy said in a June press release, when the fund-raising drive was initiated.
The budget for the Partners AIDS Research Center currently consists of $6 million at MGH and $1 million at Brigham and Women's. According to The Boston Globe, the $10 million Brudnoy fund will expand the resources available to the clinical AIDS research by about 40 percent.
"This is a time of great enthusiasm among AIDS researchers; but we still have a long way to go," Dr. Bruce Walker, director of the Partners AIDS Research Center, said in a press release. "Our team has launched a comprehensive effort to pursue key questions...But at a time when government support for medical research is in decline, private funding is crucial to our efforts to conquer the disease."
Also yesterday, researchers at four Boston hospitals, including three Harvard teaching hospitals, announced they will participate in a study testing combinations of HIV drugs.
Starting in November, patients in the study will be given a combination of three drugs. If the drugs eliminate the virus, patients will stop taking them to see if the HIV-virus returns.
"It is going to give us an idea as to whether we can actually eradicate the virus over time," said Dr. Martin Hirsh, an MGH researcher.
Patients who did not redevelop the virus after five years would be considered cured.
The other hospitals include Boston Medical Center and Harvard teaching hospitals Beth Israel and Deaconess.
--Wire dispatches contributed to this report.
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