Galveston County Daily News (Internet / Print) 05/28/06 Despite the continued rise in new HIV infections in the United States and the staggering number of deaths worldwide attributed to AIDS in the past 25 years, the medical community is still able to point to some triumphs.Scientists, physicians and HIV patients agree that the turning point came about 11 years ago when a new class of drugs, known as protease inhibitors, was introduced to the arsenal in the war on AIDS. “AIDS mortalities plummeted,” recalled William O’Brien, a professor and chief of the AIDS pathogenesis research program at the University of Texas Medical Branch, who has treated AIDS patients for 25 years. “With years of having the virus depressed, the immune system not only stops (AIDS) from progressing — you actually start to recover.” And according to O’Brien, the next cocktail breakthrough is just around the corner.