SARASOTA – 2017 brought many medical advancements, helping improve the lives of those living with chronic and deadly conditions.

Medical Director of CAN Community Health Dr. Tanya Schreibman says HIV research has made steady gains over the past few years. But, 2017 saw treatment improvements even faster.

With some patients down to taking just one pill a day.

“Newer medicines that have fewer side-effects,” Dr. Schreibman said. “Are more simple, is probably the largest advancement.”

New Clinical trials are allowing patients to stop taking pills altogether, replacing them with injection treatments.

“Instead of taking pills everyday,” Schreibman said. “For their HIV, patients are taking an injection once a month or once every other month, and not taking pills every day. And to me that’s been revolutionary in terms of treatment for HIV.”

CAN Peer Navigator Debbi Sergi-laws whose living with HIV herself, says these treatments give her hope she can have more freedom in her life.

“It would be nice to be able to be just ‘normal’” Sergi-Laws said. “And not have to worry about those things.”

But even with all these advancements, she doesn’t see a cure in sight.

“I can’t question the fact that it’s possible,” Sergi-Laws said. “In my lifetime or in our lifetime, I’m not so sure. This is a very tricky virus.”

Her goal for 2018, make sure more people get tested and treated.

“I would love to say that we are going to be talking about our numbers have gone down,” Sergi-Laws said. “In terms of new transmissions. I worry that we are still going to be having difficulties with that.”

Dr. Schreibman says progress in awareness is continuing every day.

“People are more tolerant,” Dr. Schreibman said. “So it’s become easier to live with HIV, but we have so far to go, and there is still a lot of stigma and many people that are tired of living with it.”