May 5th, 2011 | Published in HIV Treatment
For years, HIV AIDS was often regarded as death sentence. These days, however, reports about HIV AIDS are far more positive. Advances in treatment have changed the medical community’s perception of the disease regarding it as a manageable, chronic infection. However, the disease remains an devastating epidemic throughout the world, so researchers are still intent on finding a cure for HIV AIDS. In fact they may have come one step closer thanks to a patient named Timothy Ray Brown.
A Cure for HIV?
Brown, also known as the "Berlin Patient," was suffering from both HIV and leukemia when doctors performed a stem cell transplant to address the latter disease. Utilizing HIV-resistant stem cells, the procedure took place in 2007. Three and a half years later, doctors deemed Brown to be cured of HIV, as no evidence of infection has been found in his blood since the stem cell transplant took place. Furthermore, since undergoing the transplant, Brown has not taken medication for HIV, prompting doctors involved in his case to publicize their opinions about HIV AIDS being curable.
Stem Cells as HIV AIDS Treatment
In light of this news about HIV AIDS, doctors are contemplating the notion of stem cell treatment as an effective, permanent cure for the disease. The problem, of course, is that stem cell transplants carry inherent risks, including graft-versus-host disease, organ failure, and even death. As early medical intervention for HIV allows for the possibility of long-term survival for those infected, introducing such an uncertain procedure may not be worth the risk. Additionally, the success of Brown’s physicians in eliminating HIV infection is essentially a medical anomaly; while Brown himself has been cured of HIV, the same results cannot currently be anticipated in similar patients undergoing comparable procedures.
Understanding More About HIV AIDS Treatment
The medical community has known for quite some time that antiretroviral medication can slow the progression of HIV and help preserve immune system health in those infected. However, recent reports have shown that uninfected individuals who take antiretroviral drugs can reduce their risk of contracting HIV by up to 73 percent. In a trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases consisting of approximately 2,500 HIV-negative, high-risk gay men, it was determined that an antiretroviral pill called Truvada reduced the risk of HIV by 44 percent (1). For those who took the pill on a regular basis, the number climbed to approximately 73 percent. As there is currently no vaccine for HIV, the use of antiretroviral medication as a preventative measure represents a significant step toward HIV and AIDS prevention. As researchers learn more about HIV AIDS treatment benefits, those at risk for infection may find themselves with more options for disease prevention.
To avoid contracting HIV, those at risk must consistently use protection during all forms of sexual intercourse and limit sexual activity to a single, monogamous partner who has undergone STD testing and is confirmed to be disease-free. Frequent STD testing for HIV is recommended for men who have sex with other men as well as individuals with multiple sexual partners.