An HIV cure may have worked for the first time ever.
A 44-year-old British man underwent a new and unique therapy that seemed to have worked. The HIV virus seemed to have left no trace in the man's blood, indicating that the cure had indeed been effective. The man in question was one of 50 patients who had undergone trials for a two-stage treatment that sought to fully cure patients of the virus. He was the first to undergo the trials, and so far things looked promising.
However, researchers cautioned against too much optimism. The trials were still in their early stages, and the man was actually the first to complete them. Of course, the progress that the treatment had made in the trials was still remarkable, and some optimism may be in order.
What, therefore, is so special about this new treatment? This new treatment seeks to completely eradicate HIV cells in the body—a goal that makes the treatment unique. Current treatments are not able to track down dormant cells. The new treatment, however, will target these cells as well. Mark Samuels from the National Institute for Health Research says that “[t]his is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV.”
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks and makes the immune system weaker. The virus destroys T-cells, which are a type of white blood cell. A person who has HIV and does not receive treatments will be less and less able to fight off infections and diseases. Without treatment, the immune system may be completely unable to defend itself in 10 to 15 years. The HIV virus may also cause people to contract AIDS.
For now, there is no HIV cure. However, there are treatments that can help people manage HIV symptoms. Research is geared towards finding a “functional cure”, which aims to permanently reduce the virus to harmless levels. Thus, the virus will probably no longer make the patient ill or experience symptoms. However, the problem with this is that there may still be some of the virus left in the system. Thus, the new cure in development now seeks to completely destroy the virus.
Thus, this new treatment and its albeit tentative success are a potential breakthrough. The clinical tests will go on for over four more years. However, it's best to keep in mind that the actual therapy will take some time to be available to the public. Of course, that's the bad news. The good news is that there's hope for an effective HIV cure that actually does cure the body of the virus.
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