What used to be a death sentence has now become a completely manageable condition. New clinical research and developments have in fact made it possible for two patients already to completely get rid of the HIV virus.
World Has Its Second Person Cured from an HIV Infection
In the beginning of March 2019, medical journals announced that a man in London has become the second HIV positive person in the world to be completely cleared from the virus after receiving bone marrow stem cell transplant.
The stem cells were derived from an HIV resistant donor. The donor has a rare genetic mutation that makes him resistant to an HIV infection.
Within 18 months of going off antiretroviral therapy, the HIV positive man was declared completely free from the virus. A high sensitivity test was utilised to detect viral traces in his blood but there were none.
The case already serves as proof of concept that HIV positive individuals and those suffering from AIDS will one day benefit from a reliable and readily available cure. Doctors, however, caution that a cure for HIV and AIDS has not been thoroughly formulated yet.
Hence, the patient is currently labelled as being in remission rather than completely cured. Still, the experiment shows just how far HIV management therapies have gone since the 80s when the HIV epidemic used to run rampant and uncontrolled.
Not an Isolated Incident
This is the second time that a person has been declared in remission after the use of the donor stem cell therapy.
The first experiment occurred 10 years ago in Berlin, Germany, BBC reported. Once again, researchers sought a donor with natural immunity to the virus. The patient received two transplants, as well as the type of radiotherapy used in the treatment of leukaemia. Hence, the therapeutic approach was more aggressive than the one utilised in 2019.
Through a repeat accomplishment, researchers have shown that the Berlin treatment was not an anomaly or an isolated occurrence. The elimination of HIV is possible but more work will have to be done to offer a reliable treatment to the millions of HIV-positive individuals across the globe.
HIV Management Is Already Possible Today
More than 37 million people across the globe live with HIV and AIDS today. The pandemic that started in the 1980s has already killed over 35 million people.
Current antiretroviral therapies are the widespread treatment approach available right now. These therapies enable people who are HIV positive to lead long and productive lives, to the point of being considered as un-transmittable.
In addition, there have been two other very important developments that contributed to the better management of HIV – PEP and PrEP.
HIV PEP or post exposure prophylaxis is a type of antiretroviral medicine that is administered to people who have had unsafe sexual contact or who have potentially been exposed to the HIV virus in another way. When administered up to 72 hours after exposure, PEP is considered to be highly effective.
When administered correctly for a period of 28 days (one or two pills daily) PEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV significantly.
PrEP is administered to people who haven’t had unsafe contact yet but who are considered high risk individuals. When PrEP is taken and someone is exposed to the HIV virus afterwards, the medications will prevent the virus from establishing a permanent infection in the body.
Through correct administration, HIV PrEP reduces the risk of an HIV infection in high risk individuals by nearly 92 per cent.
Both PEP and PrEP treatment options are available in Singapore. They’re recommended to individuals who are living with a HIV-positive spouse/partner, those who are sexually active with multiple partners, those who engage in unprotected intercourse, homosexual and bisexual men, as well as sex workers. It’s also crucial to get regular HIV testing in order to have a clear idea about one’s status.
Healthcare service providers like Shim Clinic provide a comprehensive range of HIV diagnostic and prophylactic services.
Shim Clinic enables walk-in HIV testing, as well as screening for various other STDs. Our location welcomes visitors from 9am to 3pm and from 7pm to 11pm Monday through Friday, as well as from 7pm to 11pm on Saturday and Sunday. Come to learn more about HIV or give us a call today at (+65) 6446 7446.