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HIV/AIDS discussion

Posted: Wednesday, July 8, 2020. 1:40 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Could the right mix of drugs wipe out a pandemic worse than COVID-19?

According to the Daily Mail (UK), the first-ever case of long-term remission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), solely as a result of pharmaceutical treatment, has been recorded.

A man from Sao Paulo, Brazil, in his mid-30s, responded well after 48 weeks on an intense cocktail of AIDS medicines, including antiretroviral therapy, or ART, supplemented with additional antiretrovirals, plus a drug called nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3. Just over a year later, his DNA and cells were assessed and tests for HIV came back negative.

Dr. Ricardo Diaz of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, who co-led the study, told The Telegraph: “We can’t search the entire body, but by the best evidence, we do not have infected cells. I think it’s very promising. This patient might be cured.”

“This case is extremely interesting, and I really hope that it may boost further research into an HIV cure,” Andrea Savarino, a doctor at Italy’s Institute of Health who co-led the trial, said in an interview with the UK charity NAM AIDSmap.

The researchers do caution, however, that four other HIV-positive patients treated in the trial with the same intensified drug cocktail saw no positive effect.

“The result is highly likely not to be reproducible,” said Dr Savarino. “This a very first (preliminary) experiment and I wouldn’t foresee beyond that.”

As scientists race to develop vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, the struggle goes on to find a cure for HIV.

HIV has infected more than 75 million people and killed almost 33 million since the AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s.

Patients who have access to AIDS drugs are able to control the virus and keep the disease in check, and there are many ways to stop it spreading.

However, despite this, there are around 37 million people in the world currently living with HIV; a majority (25 million) of these live in Africa.

Hopes of a cure for AIDS have been boosted in recent years by two separate cases of remission in men who are described by HIV doctors as ‘functionally cured’. These patients were treated with highly risky and complex bone marrow transplants.

 

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