AUSTRALIAN HIV advocates are celebrating the news that scientists working on a cure for HIV infection in the UK have had a massive breakthrough in their research after a 44-year-old male patient in the study showed no signs of HIV after treatment.

Fifty patients are part of the trial being run by five British universities, which “combines antiretroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells” according to reports in The Guardian.

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“Huge breakthroughs are rare in science and the cure for HIV, if one is ever discovered, will likely come in small but significant steps forward,” said HIV activist, Paul Kidd.

“If the results being reported from this trial are sustained, this might be one of those small steps. But it will take a great deal of work to get from here to the ultimate goal of a treatment that eradicates HIV.

“An affordable and effective cure for HIV would be one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of medicine and would save countless lives.”

Previous attempts at curing people of HIV have not always been successful, as the virus can reappear in patients, but this news is a step in the right direction.

“This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV. We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable,” Mark Samuels, the managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infra­structure, told the Sunday Times

The Guardian reports the new trial attempts to trick HIV from coming out of its hiding places where the body’s immune system is able to recognise it and attack it, an approach that has been called “kick and kill”.

“It’s a very early but promising result from a trial of a method of eradicating HIV that we have a lot of hope for. Kick-and-kill represents our best hope of a cure at this time, and there are many studies, including this one, looking to see if it is feasible,” said Kidd.

“For people living with HIV, this is a sign that a cure is possible. For those of us living long-term with the virus, we spent most of our positive lives not daring to dream of a cure.

“Today, through studies like this one, we can see there is hope that we might one day be free from HIV, as individuals and as a community. That’s a wonderful thing to hope for.”

 

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