14 Adults Have Been "Cured" of HIV

Illustration for article titled 14 Adults Have Been "Cured" of HIV

This could really be happening. Just weeks after a baby girl was functionally cured of the HIV virus, early treatment has been found to put HIV into seemingly permanent remission in 14 adults. It's breathtaking progress in the fight against HIV.

The 14 patients were part of a group of 70 examined at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. They all began receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) medications between 35 days and 10 weeks of contracting the virus. The patients then stayed on the drugs for an average of three years, but all eventually stopped. ARV drugs can keep HIV in check, but can't totally remove it from your system. And typically, when you stop taking the drugs, the virus re-emerges. Except, that hasn't happened with these 14 patients.

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The early treatment is similar to the treatment of the Mississipi baby who was cured. She had ARV drugs administered just 30 hours after being born.

In both cases, the virus is still present, in a greatly reduced form and still presumably transmissible. But in its current state, the body can keep it under control on its own, without the use of drugs. Doctors aren't sure if that will be permanent, or if it will only last a certain amount of time, or while the patients are in otherwise good health. And it won't work for every patient that catches his or her infection early: it's estimated that between 5 and 15 percent will be functionally cured and no longer need drug treatment. Additionally, being diagnosed with HIV as early as 10 weeks after contracting it isn't overly common, and the early-action aspect could preclude a lot of cases from this treatment.

Still, it's an exciting development, and one that seems like it could be replicable. The advantages of catching HIV early are that it limits how much of the virus will remain once the drugs go into effect; it stops the virus from diversifying itself, which makes it harder to target; and it prevents the immune system from being destroyed.

There will not be a silver bullet for HIV. This is what progress looks like: science fighting the virus off bit by bit. This is a pretty big win, and an even better reason to get tested regularly if you aren't already. [New Scientist, BBC, NYT]

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DISCUSSION

Evan-McMenamy
Evan.McMenamy

I strongly believe a cure for HIV/AIDS exists and has existed for a while. Our understanding of viruses are limitless. And when it comes to HIV, one of the most researched viruses, I wouldn't doubt it. We've been using genes from HIV to create transfer vectors for a while. Whey cant we find a cure? Because the research groups that can afford the research to find a cure, well they're most likely owned by larger companies; all of these getting paid off by pharmaceuticals. You know what pays more than a cure? Years of treatment.

Now before all of you tell me to put on my tinfoil hat, hear this. I work on a virus called AcMNPV. It's used a biological pesticide (mostly outside of the united states). It kills most major crop pests (i research mainly those of the Lepidopteran variety). It's a great virus: kills the bugs rapidly, great short-range horizontal transfer, does not effect humans or the plants in any way, degrades quickly outside of the hose, does not travel, EXTREMELY CHEAP and many other benefits. Effectively it's a pesticide without the whole ability to kill us.

Now i knew a guy who had manipulated the virus to make it more virulent to several other major crop pests for the mid-west. Well, this guy was just a researcher, he had no means to create this for farmers. So of course, he tried his best to sell it. After months, he got a guy who wanted to buy it. He researched him thoroughly and his background looked good (a farmer who also had a businessman-like roll) and sold it to him. Little did he know, a massive pesticide group hired him to buy this biological pesticide, transfer it to the company, after which, the company buried it. It's a better pesticide that is considerably cheaper = less overall profits.

Companies in America are heartless. They want money, that's it. It's the reason why we have the highest CEO pay:AVG worker pay ratio out of any nation. It's the reason why 1% of the population own 40% of the money; the to 10 percent own 80%. (BTW that 10 percent is not a lot of people and that 1% is like under 1000 people). It's just sad, and make me sad, as I'm getting into disease research and i'll probably experience the exact same thing as my colleague.