HIV is a horrible condition that affects the body’s immune system. It often leads to a person receiving AIDS as their bodies defences break down. The condition is manageable with modern drugs but up until recently, it was thought there was no cure. A one-off patient had been cured in Germany but many considered that a fluke. Following another cured patient there is increasing hope that there is a cure for the awful virus
What is HIV
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that attacks the cells in a person’s immune system leaving them unable to potentially fight infection. The HIV virus leaves a person’s body likely to develop AIDS which is the name for a group of infections you are susceptible to if you have HIV. Unlike AIDS, HIV can be spread from person to person.
How is it transmitted?
Fortunately, HIV is not a particularly hardy virus and does not thrive well outside a human host. This means that you are not going to catch anything from using items that an infected person has used. The virus is not spread via saliva either, so kissing is fine. It can be passed on via blood, anal fluids and semen though and because of this it is most commonly spread from person to person via sexual intercourse. For this reason, it is considered a pretty serious STI.
Who is at risk?
Unfortunately, because it can be spread via anal sex the gay male community are at high risk (if they engage in anal sex.) Black men are at a higher risk as are people who take drugs via needles, especially if they are not cautious and share.
It is fair to say that HIV/Aids is not the death sentence that it used to be considered in the eighties. Thanks largely to medical advances a person can live a long and relatively normal life using our current medications. Without the medication, the prognosis is far less positive. In most case, a break of just 2-3 weeks without tablets can see their health decline dramatically.
Technically this is the second time that HIV has been cured. As previously mentioned a man was treated in Munich but since then the procedure has never worked. The cure uses a process called a Stem Cell Transplant. The process comes with great risk. Stem cells are taken from people who have a natural immunity to HIV and transplanted into the HIV sufferer. The only problem is in order to do this the host has to have their current system severely compromised. This is done using aggressive chemotherapy. It was starting to look like the original cure was a fluke as the results had never been replicated.
Fortunately, the new case proves that it was no fluke and offers hope to sufferers of a permanent cure. It was a stroke of luck in a way, as the most recent patient had to have chemotherapy anyway as they had a form of cancer so the treatment was necessary. He agreed to come off his treatment to test whether the HIV would return and it hasn’t. Doctors reported that a far less aggressive course of chemotherapy was needed in this case and no radiation was required.
The less invasive nature of this latest cure gives hope for the future of HIV treatment. While the condition can be managed there are obviously different degrees of severity and this news will offer hope for those who suffer badly with the condition. Doctors and scientists alike are excited by the prospects and most importantly this second case proves that it is a treatment that can successfully be replicated.