It was World AIDS Day about a week ago and roughly three decades since the rotavirus was discovered. The clamour against HIV stigma has relatively died out compared to the 90’s era when Asunta publicly revealed her HIV positive status. As much as the number of new infections is on the decline, the statistics are still staggering. With the 4th largest epidemic in the world, Kenya, as at 2013, had about 1.6M people living with the virus based on a UNAIDS report.
We are all aware that HIV patients can and do lead fulfilling lives, if treatment is adhered to and a conscious lifestyle adopted. I trust you enough to check off the ignorance card.
So how close are we to a possible cure?
At least 25 drugs categorized into 6 broad classes are currently in use for HIV treatment or ART-antiretroviral therapy. The combination of drugs, whose function is to reduce the viral load, is personalized for different patients based on various health and lifestyle factors. Every year, Conference of Rotaviruses and Opportunistic Infections- CROI, occurs, with the aim of consolidating researchers involved in recent HIV research development.
In a recent conference, there was emphasis on prevention particularly through Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is advised for people at higher risk of contracting HIV. Succesful PrEP formulations that have proven effective against preventing initial HIV replication, are facing the problem of adherence to a daily pill. Therefore a study at GSK is looking at creating a 3 month injectable.
Most of the research has been targeted at the proteins that are involved in HIV pathogenicity (ability to cause disease). Gene modification techniques are all the rave in science world and there is an inclusion of the same in recent HIV studies. However the answer is, unless a breakthrough occurs, thanks to the complexities of the HIV virus, we still have several years of research ahead before a cure can be declared.
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