Helping to Find a Cure For HIV

Helping to Find a Cure For HIV

Helping to Find a Cure For HIV

Since the early 1980s, HIV has been a term that is feared by many-and for good reason too. Currently there is no known cure for this virus, one that leads to the many potentially fatal opportunistic infections that are associated with AIDS.

When public awareness of HIV initially grew, it was almost always a fatal illness. But as drug treatments began to improve, the prognosis improved equally. The current multi-pronged approach is capable of controlling HIV, keeping the amount of the virus present in the body low so that the immune system can continue to function normally. This effectively prevents the development of HIV into AIDS, and may extend life expectancy so significantly that a HIV sufferer today can expect to live into their sixties-if they start treatment early.

Treatment is incredibly expensive, and this makes it not only a massive burden to individuals and to the governments who are trying to increase access to HIV treatment for their citizens. This cost means that in third world countries more people continue to die needlessly from HIV because they simply cannot afford treatment-and two thirds of HIV sufferers worldwide live in the third world. What they need instead of lifelong treatment, is a cure.

Even the most aggressive treatment will not cure HIV, and it took a long time for scientists to understand why. It was found that there are areas of the body where HIV can 'hide'-areas which are unaffected by the HIV drug regime. The drugs will reduce the amount of virus in the rest of the body to the point that it is almost undetectable, but it infection remains hidden in what has come to be known as reservoirs.

HIV reservoirs continually reinfect the body, even though the drugs have helped to remove the infection elsewhere. It is this reservoir effect that currently means that HIV cannot be cured, but instead has become a chronic and lifelong condition that is costly and difficult to manage.

Research is needed to both identify the reservoirs and why it is that the drugs are unable to effectively treat the virus in these locations. Possible reservoirs include the lymph tissue in the gut, and also the brain.

Current efforts at finding a cure for HIV must focus on finding a way to overcome and wipe out the HIV reservoir. Research is ongoing but is disjointed and uncoordinated, resulting in researchers pulling in different directions. A unified effort is needed to concentrate resources on finding a way to cure the HIV reservoir.

With an aim to facilitate this research, a group of scientists and doctors have come together to organize a biennial research and reference workshop. This workshop allows for the exchange of ideas, research, and for cooperative efforts to be launched into the ongoing research. Ongoing collaboration is made possible through the website . Set up as a way for professionals who are involved in research into HIV reservoirs and treatment, they have the goal of finding a cure within the next decade.

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