Wednesday, 5 October 2016

HIV cure claims by UK papers wrong - UK

I read a report the other day about this, and even then upon reading the full article I decided myself that the headline was entirely dramatic to attract readers. I'm always extremely wary of anyone who claims an HIV cure is near. 

HIV is a mutating virus which finds it's way around various strategies. Even the highly successful anti-retroviral therapy (ART) which was first implemented in the mid '90's and now see's people on such treatment with an undetectable HIV viral load, isn't a cure as HIV resides dormant in various parts of the body. It can reactivate at any time. Hence the continued reliance on ART to keep the virus in check.

So I wasn't surprise now when a couple of days later, lo and behold, sane people involved in the HIV world have called bullshit on the paper's claims of a cure.
While The Sunday Times states that the British researchers are on the “brink of a cure,” their research is actually only in its early stages. 

The participant in question had received the kick-and-kill treatment but is still taking antiretroviral (ARV) medications. Researchers cannot know whether his virus will rebound unless he discontinues his ARVs. Furthermore, he and all the other trial participants will require years of follow-up before the scientists could claim success in curing them. 

Even if any of the participants are cured, this cure method may not be broadly applicable, since it is being tested only among those recently infected with the virus, who may have a better shot at a cure than those infected longer. 

The study, known as Research in Viral Eradication of HIV Reservoirs, or RIVER, aims to recruit 52 people who contracted the virus during the previous six months. About 15 percent of the VISCONTI cohort in France have remained in viral remission after starting an aggressive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment regimen that early in the course of their infection and then later going off their HIV medications. POZ
In short, basically they don't even know yet if the HIV undetectable viral load is from ART or the new experiment they're doing on these people, and it will take many years to find out if it is.

My advice to anyone desperately wanting a cure? Accept you have the virus and live with it. This is our lives now; with HIV.