AIDS Cure: Latest Treatments On The Journey To A Cure

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Talk of an AIDS cure was rampant during the early 1980s when the newly discovered syndrome and HIV, the virus that caused it were ravaging the US and the world. To date, we’re still looking for one, but doctors, patients, and at-risk communities are encouraged to see how far HIV treatment and outcomes have come in the last several years. 

Today, we will discuss the latest advances, along with one particularly groundbreaking case that was announced in the last month.

AIDS and HIV: What’s the Difference?

From the outside looking in, many people make the mistake of thinking that HIV and AIDS are synonymous. That’s not the case. 

You can have HIV without ever getting AIDS, but you can’t get AIDS without first contracting HIV. That’s because one is a virus and the other is a syndrome. 

HIV Symptoms

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. As the name suggests, it occurs only in humans, and it attacks the immune system. The attack makes it more difficult to fight off sicknesses of all types. Some of the most common symptoms of HIV include the following: 

  • Pneumonia
  • Skin growths on the skin or inside of the mouth, purple or bluish in color
  • Fever that won’t go away or recurs frequently
  • Thrush, which is an oral yeast infection

The severity of symptoms can correspond to the stage of HIV you’re in. Fortunately, HIV is a manageable condition that is no longer the death sentence that it once was. That said, it’s still serious and requires immediate medical treatment.

AIDS Symptoms

Without proper treatment and care, an HIV patient can advance to Stage 3 HIV. It’s at this stage that the patient is diagnosed as having AIDS, or autoimmune deficiency syndrome. Decades and billions of dollars have gone into finding a cure, to no avail. However, many of the treatments we’re about to speak about are promising. Before we get there, here are what the symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes or glands
  • Profuse night sweats
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea 
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches 

Beyond this stage, the immune system suffers severe damage. This opens the door to rare cancers, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. 

State of AIDS and HIV in the US and Globally

Fortunately, tides have turned on HIV in the last 20 years with life expectancy going from around 10 years from the initial diagnosis to today. Now, patients can live normal lives into their 70s and 80s. That said, close to 1 million still die from illnesses related to AIDS each year, and 38 million are living with the disease.  

How AIDS Treatments Have Been Successful in Prolonging Life

The difference-makers in the treatment of HIV and AIDS include understanding how the virus progresses, how soon it’s diagnosed, and starting treatment with antiretroviral drugs. 

HIV is one of many anti-retroviruses that exist. Medications that inhibit the growth of these viruses stifle their ability to progress. As a result, more and more HIV patients are able to live with the virus and manage it effectively without it ever getting to Stage 3. And in recent years, there have been some groundbreaking advances.

A Case Like No Other

On Feb. 21, 2022, NPR reported that a New York City woman was cured of the virus completely. She was only the third person in history to be declared free of the virus. However, in two other cases, the patients relapsed, so healthcare workers at the time did not formally announce their progress.

This latest case is different. Doctors at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she was receiving treatment, made the announcement last week because the woman has now been four years without relapse. 

While this is understandably good news, it’s too early to tell whether the results are scalable. So far, as Dr. Carlos Del Rio notes in his comments to NPR, the “AIDS cures” so far have involved genetic abnormalities in those who’ve been declared free of the virus. 

In other words, current treatments are not yet to the point where we can declare that there is any kind of HIV or AIDS cure. But what each successful case does accomplish is this: 

  • Keeps HIV and AIDS research in the public eye
  • Encourages continued treatment 
  • Expands the field of knowledge that we have for how to live successfully with the virus

All these factors are important to patients and their families. They also speak volumes about how far the world has come with how it treats the illness and the unfair stigmas that were placed upon those who are diagnosed. 

The Possibilities for an AIDS Cure Are Promising

There currently is no AIDS cure, but medical advancements are improving by leaps and bounds every single day. As more of these positive outcomes come to light, it provides hope to those living with the virus. If you’re living with HIV or any other immune system deficiency and are seeking knowledgeable, quality treatment for how to proceed, book an appointment with one of our primary care or urgent care doctors today.

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