HIV Cure: ‘Breakthrough’ Treatment Overhyped, Lack Of Evidence Triggers Skeptics

The search for a cure for HIV and AIDS is ongoing. While the disease is still said to be incurable, medical practitioners and researchers are hopeful that a cure might be in sight. Recently, a breakthrough is said to have been made in the search for an HIV cure, though skeptics are now saying that there is need for more evidence on the alleged treatment.

According to Popular Science, knowing if a person is cured of HIV can be difficult as it involves testing different tissues. Testing also involves many years of repeating the same tests. This might involve not just one, but a number of tests as well. It would make for a costly procedure merely by testing, and that doesn't include the other medical costs as well such as treatments and medicine.

Some of the HIV tests performed evaluated the amount of viral RNA that could be found in the blood. Normal blood tests though could not find all of the HIV virus, and some HIV virus could remain hidden deep inside CD4 T cells. That has been discovered in 1995.

One treatment used for HIV is what has been called the shock and kill approach. This would mean boosting a patient's immune system as soon as HIV has been detected. This is said to be the approach utilized in the U.K. where the reported breakthrough treatment has been made.

The method done in the U.K. featured an aggressive shock and kill approach for 50 HIV patients over a period of nine months. The issue over it is that only one patient has so far been said to be cured and that full results are not expected to come out until 2018.

"I'm surprised that they would announce this in the press when they only have one patient and are not expecting all the results to come in until 2018," Stephen Morse, Epidemiologist and director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness at Columbia University said.

As reported by WESH News, the patient said to be cured of HIV is a 44-year-old man. Tests are said to have shown that HIV can't be found in his blood. The treatment given has been made by a collaboration of researchers from five leading universities in the U.K. Scientists say that the result has to be replicated in future studies before being deemed successful. The U.K. research is said to continue for another five years.

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