Scientists based in the UK have made a remarkable breakthrough that could lead to a cure for HIV.
Scientists and clinicians have been working on a trial to test a possible cure for HIV, and they have found that for one of their patients, they showed no sign of the virus following treatment.
The research is being conducted by five top universities with the backing of the NHS. Methods involved in the trial include combining antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells. This is known as the “kick and kill” approach to dealing with the virus.
Mark Samuels, the managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure, said: “This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable.”
This demonstrates major progress in researching a cure for HIV and AIDS, but more research will need to be done in order to properly establish a cure and its effectiveness.
Nevertheless, this is a major breakthrough and the start for a future of having a cure for the virus, which affects 37 million people worldwide. An estimated 2.1 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015.
HIV attacks the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infections and disease. AIDS is the final stage of HIV, when the body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. While there is no cure for HIV, there are treatments that enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life without developing AIDS.
Some people with the virus may experience flu-like symptoms after infection but for many who have been infected they experience no symptoms. It is estimated that around 17 per cent of people have HIV but are not aware they have it.
HIV is often associated with those who are young or middle aged, but a growing number of elderly people are contracting the virus. According to the Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity that helps to support those suffering with the virus, older people are the fastest growing group in the UK with HIV, and the numbers of people over 50 with the virus is set to have doubled since 2010. Anyone can contract the virus regardless of how old they are.
The recent scientific discovery is just the starting point and another progressive process towards the cure for HIV but for now, prevention is better than cure.