Can Hiv Be Cured
There has been, and continues to be, lots of research that is working towards finding a cure for HIV.
So far, only one person has been cured of HIV. Another possible cure was reported in 2019 but it is too early to say if HIV has been completely cleared in his case.
In both cases, the person living with HIV required treatment for cancer, including a stem cell transplant. The stem cell donors both had rare genetic mutations and the transplant may have repopulated their bodies with cells with the genetic mutation, making them resistant to HIV infection.
These are unusual cases and other attempts to replicate them have failed. Stem cell transplants are risky and not suitable for people who dont have cancer.
Several strategies are being explored to cure HIV. Eradication or a sterilising cure would remove HIV from the body completely, generally by killing all infected cells. This may be difficult to achieve without a better understanding of how HIV persists in the body undetected and untouched by the immune system.
A functional cure would not eradicate all HIV, but would enable the immune system to keep HIV under control, without the need for antiretroviral treatment or other ongoing medication. To achieve a functional cure, it is likely that a combination of approaches will be needed.
Is A Cure Possible
You may have heard of the âLondon patientâ and the âBerlin patientâ as having been cured of HIV. But their cases arenât the same as HIV remission, as they both had blood cancer and got stem cell transplants from people who had a genetic resistance to HIV.
Both were dealing with another condition — a blood cancer that wasnât helped by chemotherapy — as well as having HIV. They both got stem cell transplants from people who had a genetic resistance to HIV. The goal was to treat their cancer and also target their HIV.
Stem cell transplants arenât likely to become a common treatment for HIV, because they can have dangerous side effects.
The London patient, who is anonymous, had no signs of HIV after the stem cell transplant. The patient stayed on antiretroviral medications for 16 more months. After stopping those medications, the patient still had no sign of HIV 18 months later.
Timothy Ray Brown is the âBerlin patient.â Heâs an American who was living in Berlin when he tested positive for HIV in 1995. He started ART and lived with the virus. Eleven years later, Brown faced another health crisis. This time it was the blood cancer leukemia. To survive, he needed a stem cell transplant — a treatment that replaces unhealthy blood cells with normal ones.
Youll Lower Your Chances Of Developing Opportunistic Infections
A healthy immune system can fight off many viruses and other harmful pathogens. But people with HIV have a weakened immune system that leaves them vulnerable to certain opportunistic infections, like thrush. There are more than 20 types of opportunistic infections, and developing one means youve transitioned to an AIDS diagnosis. Antiretroviral therapy can raise your CD4 count to help your immune system fight these infections, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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How Do You Know If The Drugs Are Working
After you’ve started taking drugs for HIV, your provider will look at how much HIV virus is in your bloodstream to see how well the drug therapy is working. If the drugs are working, your viral load goes down. You will have less of the virus in your bloodstream. A very important goal of treatment is to reduce the viral load to below the level that can be counted by laboratory tests, and to keep it there. This sometimes is called an “undetectable” level of HIV.
Other ways you and your provider can see if the drugs are working are:
- Your CD4 count. This number should stay the same or go up if your drugs are working.
- Your health checkups. Your treatment should help keep you healthy and help you fight off infections and diseases.
The Challenge Of The Replication Cycle
Instead of being able to focus on a single strain of HIV, researchers have to account for the fact that it replicates so quickly, which can cause mutations and new strains. The replication cycle of HIV takes a little more than 24 hours.
And while the replication process is fast, it’s not the most accurateproducing many mutated copies each time, which then combine to form new strains as the virus is transmitted between different people.
For example, in HIV-1 , there are 13 distinct subtypes and sub-subtypes that are linked geographically, with 15% to 20% variation within subtypes and variations of up to 35% between subtypes.
Not only is this a challenge in creating a vaccine, but also because some of the mutated strains are resistant to ART, meaning that some people have more aggressive mutations of the virus.
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Tips For Staying On Your Treatment Plan
Before you start a treatment plan, you should:
- Get your health care provider to write everything down for you: names of the drugs, what they look like, how to take them , and how often to take them. This way, you’ll have something to look at in case you forget what you’re supposed to do.
- With your provider’s help, develop a plan that works for you.
How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
The most effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy . This is a combination of several medicines that aims to control the amount of virus in your body. Antiretroviral medicines slow the rate at which the virus grows. Taking these medicines can reduce the amount of virus in your body and help you stay healthy.
After you start treatment, it’s important to take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you. When treatment doesn’t work, it is often because HIV has become resistant to the medicine. This can happen if you don’t take your medicines correctly.
Other steps you can take include the following:
- Keep your immune system strong by eating right, quitting smoking, and learning how to avoid infection.
- Monitor your CD4+ counts to check the effect of the virus on your immune system.
- See a counselor to help you handle the strong emotions and stress that can follow an HIV diagnosis.
- Reduce stress so that you can better manage the HIV illness.
Medical experts recommend that people begin treatment for HIV as soon as they know that they are infected. Treatment is especially important for pregnant women, people who have other infections , and people who have symptoms of AIDS.
Research suggests that treatment of early HIV with antiretroviral medicines has long-term benefits, such as a stronger immune system.
Treatment to prevent HIV infection
Other treatments for HIV
Treatment for AIDS
Living with HIV
If your partner has HIV:
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Does Antiretroviral Treatment Have Side
As with all medication, starting to take ARVs can cause some side-effects, particularly in the first few days of treatment. This is another topic you could discuss with your doctor, as it might also affect your choice of drugs. Your treatment will be monitored and you may be recommended to switch drugs if they aren’t working for you or if you’re finding the side effects difficult to manage.
How Well Does The Use Of Hiv Treatment To Maintain An Undetectable Viral Load Prevent Hiv Transmission Through Injection Drug Use
The limited available research suggests that being on HIV treatment and maintaining an undetectable viral load is effective at helping to prevent HIV transmission among people who inject drugs however, people who use drugs can get HIV through sex and through sharing drug use equipment. While we know that maintaining an undetectable viral load will prevent HIV transmission through sex, we dont know how much it reduces the chance of passing HIV through shared drug use equipment. The best way to prevent passing HIV through drug use is to use new needles and other equipment every time. People who use drugs need access to enough new equipment to be able to do this consistently and to avoid having to share with others.
The three major studies looking at sexual HIV transmission did not systematically recruit people who inject drugs, they did not ask whether participants were sharing injection equipment and they did not provide any analysis related to participants who reported using drugs.
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Treat Early To End Hiv
If you have been recently diagnosed with HIV, feel free to get in touch with us. ACONs service for newly diagnosed gives you access to a trained counsellor, usually within one working day.
Were committed to ending HIV, and by treating early, you are looking after your health, as well as helping to prevent HIV transmission.
Is Hiv Curable If Caught Early
There is no cure for HIV yet. Antiretroviral treatment can, however, control the infection limiting the virus multiplication in the body. With proper treatment, people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives. Treatment lowers the viral load , which not only protects the person from progressing into an advanced stage of the disease but also reduces the chances of transmission of the virus to others.
It is important to get tested for HIV in the early stages of infection to minimize the damage to the immune system. Successful treatment aims to reduce HIV load to a level that is harmless to the body. However, some of the viruses may persist. Trials are underway for getting a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
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What Happens If I Delay Starting Hiv Treatment
In the past people could delay treatment if they werent ready to start. However, this isnt recommended now. If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment, the better it is for your health.
The START trial found that there was a 53% reduction in the risk of death or serious illness if treatment was started when the CD4 count was still above 500.
Its common for people to feel apprehensive about taking treatment but all you need to remember is that:
- It will enable you to live a normal lifespan.
- When you’re on effective treatment you won’t be able to pass on HIV.
When Should I Start Antiretroviral Treatment
Its now recommended that people diagnosed with HIV start antiretroviral treatment straight away. This is because the sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can benefit from it. Starting treatment as soon as possible protects your immune system from damage and gives you the best chance of staying strong and healthy in the future.
I immediately started my treatment, and boy I have to tell you, I never experienced any sort of setback and have never been sick – and now I am even undetectable.
– Mpho, South Africa
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How Do You Deal With Side Effects
Some side effects can be hard to deal with. One way to cope with them is to know what to watch out for and have a plan to deal with problems that come up.
That’s why you need to talk to your provider about the risk of side effects from different drugs, before you start therapy.
At the beginning of any treatment, you go through a period of adjustment–a time when your body has to get used to the new drugs you’re taking. Sometimes you’ll have headaches, an upset stomach, fatigue, or aches and pains. These side effects may go away after a few days or a few weeks.
If you notice any unusual or severe reactions after starting or changing a drug, report the side effects to your provider immediately.
More information is available in the Side Effects Guide.
Why Early Treatment Is Crucial
We want to ensure every guy has the best chance of living a healthy life.
If you are diagnosed with HIV, one of the first steps you should take is to start treatment as early as possible. Why? Well, we know that treatment keeps your immune system healthy and reduces the risk of developing health conditions associated with HIV.
Treatment can also lower the viral load of HIV in your blood to virtually undetectable levels, and research from two international studies, PARTNER and Opposites Attract show that HIV positive men who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load do not transmit HIV to their partners.
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How Does Hiv Affect A Person In The Long Term
Though the outlook has gotten much better for those with HIV, there are still some long-term effects that they might experience.
As time passes, people living with HIV may begin to develop certain side effects of treatment or HIV itself.
These may include:
The body may also undergo a shift in how it processes sugars and fats. This can lead to having more fat in certain areas of the body, which can change the bodys shape. However, these physical symptoms are more common with older HIV medications. Newer treatments have far fewer, if any, of these symptoms affecting physical appearance.
If treated poorly or left untreated, HIV infection can develop into stage 3 HIV, or AIDS.
A person develops stage 3 HIV when their immune system is too weak to defend their body against infections. A healthcare provider will likely diagnose stage 3 HIV if the number of certain white blood cells in an HIV-positive persons immune system drops below 200 cells per mL of blood.
Life expectancy is different for every person living with stage 3 HIV. Some people may die within months of this diagnosis, but the majority can live fairly healthy lives with regular antiretroviral therapy.
Rash Caused By Other Infections: Stage 3 And 4
Rashes are caused by opportunistic bacterial, viral, or fungal infections in the third stage of HIV infection or during AIDS, the fourth stage.
Once the initial symptoms disappear, HIV might not cause any other symptoms for about 10 years. Youll probably seem totally healthy. But without treatment, the virus will continue to damage your immune system. And when your immunity is compromised, youre at risk for quite a few illnesses. These include several skin conditions that can lead to a noticeable rash.
- Eczema may cause parts of your skin to become itchy, red, sore, and dry. Luckily, it can be treated with anti-allergy medication called antihistamines. Its a good idea to avoid long baths and body products that irritate your skin. Make sure to use a water-based cream or moisturizer.
- Dermatitis or skin inflammation can cause red patches and a flaky rash. In some cases, fungal infections can be a trigger. Seborrheic dermatitis, marked by inflamed oil glands and yellowish dandruff, is common in HIV and develops in hairy parts of the body. This condition can be treated with antifungal creams, tablets, and steroid ointments. Antifungal or antidandruff shampoo can be used on the scalp.
The rashes can be in the form of small bumps in the hair roots, cold sores, painful blisters in the genitals, stripes of blisters on one side of the body, or itchy, red, and dry patches.
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What You Can Do To Reduce Stigma
You can help reduce stigma by being respectful, compassionate and non-judgemental. Model this behaviour for others when you witness stigmatizing behaviours.
When talking about HIV, certain terms can be stigmatizing. Be thoughtful about the words you use when discussing the topic.
Learn more about the facts of HIV. Treatment can lower the amount of virus in a person’s blood to a level that’s too low to be measured on a standard blood test. This means it’s undetectable.
People living with HIV on treatment who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.
Knowing and sharing these facts widely can help to reduce stigma. Share our Undetectable = Untransmittable infographic to help us raise awareness.
In addition, HIV is not transmitted through:
- healthy, unbroken skin
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
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Promising New Research May Soon Help Treat And One Day Cure The Chronic Disease
Just over a decade ago, researchers announced a first: They had cured a patient of HIV. Known as the Berlin patient, Timothy Ray Brown had needed a bone marrow transplant to treat his acute myeloid leukemia. Doctors used the opportunity to replace his bone marrow using stem cells from a donor with gene-based HIV immunity. It worked: Browns leukemia was cured, as was his HIV. More recently, in 2019, a second patient, this time being treated for Hodgkins lymphoma, was similarly cured in London.
But although these are the most famous stories where patients have been cured from HIV, their treatments represent just one option of many new approaches for tackling the virus and one of the least widely applicable. Its too invasive and too risky to conduct a bone marrow transplant on someone who doesnt already have cancer that requires the procedure especially considering most patients with an HIV diagnosis and access to care can effectively control the disease with drugs. In fact, a patient on antiretroviral therapy, or ART, today has the same life expectancy as a person without HIV.