HIV – Hopes of a Cure

The XIX International AIDS Conference concluded July 2007 with a renewed optimism about a cure for AIDS, a possible challenge, experts who participated in the meeting, but still distant after years of great achievements.

Current treatments are effective in reducing blood levels of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS and keep it under control, but are not able to remove it when it is dormant.

“Current drugs have high efficacy with minimal side effects when compared with drugs for 10 or 20 years ago,” said Efe IrsiCaixa site investigator, Javier Martinez-Picado.

“If taken consistently and no intolerance, should allow controlling virus replication efficiently”, however, “no matter how good they are, do not cure the infection,” because if they stop taking the virus reappears .

Research is now facing two major challenges: the preventive vaccine and new strategies to cure the infection to antiretroviral treatment are limited and may be withdrawn without the virus emerge.

As told Efe physician and professor at the University of California at San Francisco Steven Deeks, the problem is that the virus is hidden in infected cells and current medications can not attack, so you have to “identify drugs that force the virus out of their slumber to destroy him. “

Deeks said, however, that although science has already identified the way forward, yet “we are not close to something that works, we’re just beginning.”

The teacher said, among the pioneering studies, led by the David Margolis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose team has used a drug used against leukaemia to detect HIV-1 virus hides when Inside the cells, hindering the effectiveness of antiretrovirals.

At the moment there is only one case in the world of cure, the American Timothy Ray Brown, who underwent a complicated treatment that included a bone marrow transplant to treat acute myeloid leukaemia cells selected with suffering.

Deeks, who has studied the case, stressed that it was a special situation: “Never would take an ordinary person with HIV and sometimes a marrow transplant is very dangerous.”

Chronic Fatigue

Still, the case known as the “Berlin patient” was instructive: “It is evidence, at least, that a cure is possible” said the doctor in California who stressed that inspired many people and scientists to pursue this cure.

As expected vaccine, Deeks said that after 20 years of failed attempts have been made “real progress” in this area in the past two years and “there is no doubt that we are approaching, but not sure how far we do it. “

Dr. James Fitzgerald, Senior Adviser for Essential Medicines and Biologicals, PAHO / WHO, consulted by Efe, stressed that prevention is key and noted that “it is imperative that we have a vaccine.”

Fitzgerald felt that with current technology, “we can have a vaccine” and noted that will complement along with preventive measures, vital to end the disease.

In 2011 there were 34.2 million people living with HIV worldwide, the highest recorded so far due to the extension of the average life achieved thanks to antiretroviral therapy, according to the UN agency against AIDS (UNAIDS).

In an interview with Efe, said Timothy Brown want to stop being the only person cured of HIV worldwide. “I want this cure is transferred to every person in this world who are infected with HIV around the world to become infected” and that the disease “is history.”

The researchers do not like to deadlines and remain prudent with dates, but as shown in conferences like the one closes today in Washington, the cure is coming.