Friday, 29 January 2016

CURRENT RESEARCH TRENDS IN HIV/AIDS CURE DEVELOPMENTS.

By Sam Maondu

Despite hefty challenges encountered in the search for HIV/AIDS cure, there are milestones achieved through scientific approach. Since discovery of Zidovudine- an antiretroviral- in 1985, antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have been under development. ARVs have helped to reduce HIV related illness and mortality by the virtue that they curb the virus from growing and multiplying. When there is less viral load in the system destruction of the immune cells is reduced leading to improved immune function, improved quality of health both physically and mentally.

THE BERLIN PATIENT- cured of HIV infection.

This scenario is one of its kind. The Berlin patient had contracted HIV and was also battling with Leukemia- Cancer of the blood. (chronic myeloid leukemia) His doctor had prescribed an unusual regimen of Didanosine and Indinavir to take care of the HIV infection and hydroxyurea for the leukemia. To elaborate on this unusual regimen, Didanosine is a necleoside analogue and Indinavir is a protease inhibitor. In a normal situation 2-nucleoside analogues and 1-protease inhibitor are prescribed which was not the case. The Berlin patient was also to receive bone marrow transplant to enable his body produce normal blood cells. The donor of the stem cell for the transplant had genetic mutations that made the Berlin patient be resistant to HIV infection.The day the Berlin patient underwent transplant surgery, he stopped ARVs and there is no HIV in his system according to the follow up tests done.

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CHALLENGES IN DEVELOPMENT OF CURE FOR HIV/AIDS.

Antiretroviral drugs and other supportive therapy have been in existence and under development to address HIV infection burden, increase life expectancy to near normal, add meaning to life, improve physical and mental health, save the immune system from destruction and reduce risk of transmission.

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Despite ARVs and other supportive therapies, there is a major challenge to get rid of the virus completely hence existence of persistence Viral reservoir in the body of man which makes an individual with HIV infection remain a potential carrier and transmitter of the virus to the general population.

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Secondly and rhetorically, when under antiretroviral drugs and other supportive therapy, is there time when the virus goes below undetectable levels? This goes hand in hand with good compliance to treatment and healthy living. This could be also another scientific challenge in chatting the way to cure for HIV infection. Precise location of HIV reservoir and the the amount of the virus is a roadblock towards achieving our goal. 

The amfAR is on countdown to give HIV epidemic an epic ending by 2020 and are bringing scientific minds together in this mind-boggling though with an indent to make this dream a reality. 

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References:
The Countdown To Cure For AIDS- amfAR. Address: http://www.amfar.org/countdown/
HIV/AIDS-Wikipedia, the dree encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS
The Berlin patient- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Berlin_Patient