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Update: Major HIV Breakthrough May Be On the Horizon

Update: Major HIV Breakthrough May Be On the Horizon

UPDATE: The lead scientist in the Danish HIV study, Ole Søgaard, now claims he was misquoted in the original interview with The Telegraph suggesting that an HIV cure was only months away. He says that in the next few months, the preliminary results of the study will be released, but that a viable cure is likely years away. This research still represents an important step in making HIV treatment accessible to ordinary people.

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A group of researchers at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have announced that they’ve started clinical trials testing a revolutionary new approach to fighting HIV. While there have been a few major breakthroughs in recent years — including an infant and an adult man who have apparently been “cured” of the disease — these cases had little practical impact on the lives of most people living with HIV.

In the case of the baby in Mississippi, treatment was started immediately after the baby was born, before doctors had even confirmed that she was HIV positive. This was fantastic news for newborns with HIV positive mothers, but not very helpful to anyone already living with the virus.

The other case involved a patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant, which apparently cured him of HIV. Again, not a great option for the majority of people already living with HIV. It’s expensive, painful, dangerous, and of course, bone marrow donors are hard to come by — particularly those with the HIV-resistant genetic mutation this donor had.

This is precisely why this new Danish trial is so exciting. Instead of treatments that may only be able to help or cure a select few, this new approach may be able to help anyone infected with HIV. The cost savings to patients and healthcare systems around the world could be huge — instead of taking drugs to keep the virus in check for the rest of their lives, patients could simply have a one-time round of treatment and go back to living a normal life.

Essentially, the treatment releases the virus from its hiding place within human DNA, bringing it to the surface of a cell. At that point, the body’s own immune defenses, boosted with immunotherapy treatments, can destroy the virus. So far, 15 people have been treated with this technique, with research set to expand in coming months.

Still, while scientists may identify a promising possible cure in 2013, it may be as many as 5 years before it becomes widely available outside of trials. When it does become accessible to everyone, doctors and scientists will likely need to warn people that a treatment is not the same as a vaccine. Preventing HIV by practicing safe sex and avoiding risky behaviors will always be a better deal for your body and your bank account.

 

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Photo credit: Tom Hart via Flickr

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103 comments

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5:32AM PDT on Apr 7, 2014

PLEASE read my three (3) previous Posts. Don and WE CAN! :-))

12:20AM PST on Dec 2, 2013

The world could use some more hope!

11:16PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

MARIAN D: I may be going out on a limb here; but in my opinion you are nothing but a BS and con artist and Post such as yours have absolutely no place on sites such as ours and are no different from the other sales and spam Posts that I've flagged as "inappropriate". Goodby. See my previous Post on this subject.

Don and I CAN! :-))

11:12PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

All MAJOR breakthroughs are (JUST) on the horizon and HIV is absolutely no different BREAST CARNER and/or LUNG CANCER or any other major killer of human life. This Post is terribly misleading and contains more BS than substance.

Come on folks the information about the baby in Mississippi was posted previously as an HIV cure when in FACT, the baby was being treated for HIV and cured, even before the HIV was confirmed. ??????????

Some Post simply make me sick and this is one of them. Offering hope and a cure when and where none exist. Don and I CAN! :-))

10:36PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Care2 moderators, please delete the comment from Marian D. below this one. it is cruel to spread false hope about a "cure" for AIDS or to shill for some dodgy doctor, no matter how badly-written and implausible it seems.

6:52PM PDT on May 7, 2013

Amazing news! I hope to see a "cure" in my lifetime!

3:58AM PDT on May 7, 2013

Geez . . . Where have I heard this before?

12:11AM PDT on May 7, 2013

I wish i could see more positive in this article. however Like cancer I don't believe it will ever be cured this disease makes to much money for Big Oharma I wish it wasn't so I lost a couple of friends to this.
the other thing is whom will they make it available to -the wealthy? People need to be better educated about prevention

2:58PM PDT on May 6, 2013

Thanks Julie for the very excellent article. This is potentially great news and I hope so see a follow up article.

12:17PM PDT on May 6, 2013

It's about time! This is good news, but how much is it gonna cost? Especially since the poor won't be able to afford it.

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