There is no cure for HIV / AIDS yet: Treatment can control HIV enable

03Dec 2018
Correpondent
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
There is no cure for HIV / AIDS yet: Treatment can control HIV enable

By the end of 1981 about 270 cases of gays with severe immune deficiency were reported in USA (as per AVERT, global information and education about HIV and AIDS) since then scientists have been working hard to get permanent solution of this challenge.

The Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS), a householdbased national survey, was conducted between October 2016 and August 2017 to measure the status of Tanzania’s national HIV response and it came out that, Annual incidence of HIV among adult’s ages 15 to 64 years in Tanzania is 0.29 percent. This corresponds to approximately 81,000 new cases of HIV annually among adults. Prevalence of HIV among adult’s ages 15 to 64 years in Tanzania is 5.0 percent, this corresponds to approximately 1.4 million people living with HIV (PLHIV) ages 15 to 64 years in Tanzania. Prevalence of viral load suppression (VLS) among HIV-positive adult’s ages 15 to 64 years in Tanzania is 52.0 percent.

 

In its simplicity HIV(human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that when gets access inside human body, it interferes and destroys ability of the body to protect itself, thus lowering the natural ability of body to fight against other diseases , this make a way for other diseases to come into the body and hence AIDS.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndromes) is a set of symptoms and illnesses that come after body`s ability to fight infections is low. 

What is special with HIV?

The ability of the virus to change (mutate). HIV has poor ability to make its own copy when it multiplies this make existence of many strains of the virus of which makes it difficult to have single vaccine or drug to protect or cure all strains while minimizing side effects to human (host).

Also the behavior of the virus to attack the defense of the body, unlike many other virus which are more specific to a certain body cells, HIV when inside the body, affects more than one type of cell, initially affecting defacing cells.

 What has been done currently?

In 1997, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) became the new treatment standard. It caused a 47 percent decline in death rates.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first rapid HIV diagnostic test kit in November 2002. The test kit allowed hospitals to provide results with 99.6 percent accuracy in 20 minutes.

The World Health Organization set a goal to bring treatment to 3 million people by 2005. By 2010, about 5.25 million people had treatment, and 1.2 million people would start treatment.

There is no cure for HIV and AIDS yet. However, treatment can control HIV and enable people to live a long and healthy life.

Is there possibility of cure for HIV?

Researchers and scientists are talking more and more about the possibility of a cure. We now know a lot about HIV, as much as certain cancers. There are two types of cure that are talked about – a functional cure and a sterilizing cure.

Functional cures

A functional cure would suppress the amount of HIV virus in the body to such low levels it can’t be detected or make you ill – but it would still be present. Some scientists argue that antiretroviral(ARV) treatment is now effectively a functional cure, but most scientists still see a functional cure suppressing the virus without the need for ongoing antiretroviral treatment.

There are a few examples of people considered to have been functionally cured, such as the Mississipi Baby, but sadly all have subsequently seen the virus re-emerge. Most of these people received antiretroviral treatment very quickly after infection or birth.

Sterilizing cures

A sterilizing cure is one where all HIV virus is eradicated from the body, even from hidden reservoirs. There is only one known case of a potentially successful sterilizing cure. This occurred in a man called Timothy Brown, also known as the 'Berlin Patient'.

Researching for a cure

There are four main research approaches being looked at for a cure:

  • ‘Shock and kill’ approaches aim to flush the virus out of its reservoirs and then kill the infected cells.
  • Gene editing aims to change immune cells so they can’t be infected by HIV.
  • ‘Immune modulation’ is looking for ways to permanently change the immune system to better fight HIV.
  • Stem cell transplants, as used in the case of the Berlin patient, aim to completely eliminate a person’s infected immune system and replace with a donor system. This is the most complex and risky approach.

While there have been a number of promising pieces of research, there is no cure currently on the horizon.

Vaccines

There has also been lots of research into an HIV vaccine, with a number of trials showing some encouraging results. However, a vaccine would only offer partial protection and would need to be used in combination with other treatments.

What should I do until there is a cure?

For now, the best thing to do for your health is to test regularly for HIV. If you have the virus, start treatment and keep taking it regularly.