News / Health

Researchers See Hope for Potential AIDS Cure

AIDS activists take part in a rally across from the White House in Washington, D.C., where the international AIDS 2012 conference is currently being held, July 24, 2012.
AIDS activists take part in a rally across from the White House in Washington, D.C., where the international AIDS 2012 conference is currently being held, July 24, 2012.
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VOA News
Researchers say they are looking into two main pathways to achieve the nearly 30-year goal of finding a cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Javier Martinez-Picado with Spain's IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute told the International AIDS Conference in Washington that even though he does not expect a cure anytime soon, researchers see hope for one.

He said the two main ways to achieve a cure will be by pursuing successes in either eradicating the virus from a patient's body or having the person's body control the virus on its own.

Martinez-Picado cited one study in which an American man developed leukemia while being HIV-positive.  Five years after several medical procedures, including bone marrow transplants from a donor with a genetic mutation that blocks HIV from entering cells, the patient remains off antiretroviral therapy and HIV-free.

Related video report by Vidushi Sinha

New Drug Cocktail Holds Promise for Treating TB-HIV Co-Infectionsi
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Vidushi Sinha
July 24, 2012
Tuberculosis remains the largest killer of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Yet many HIV-positive patients who come down with the potentially lethal respiratory infection cannot be effectively treated because the separate drugs needed to fight those two diseases do not interact well or have toxic side effects when used together. VOA’s Vidushi Sinha reports a combination of new drugs now is proving more effective in clinical trials both in treating TB alone, and in treating HIV patients co-infected with TB.
"This might be the first ever documented patient apparently cured of an HIV infection," said Martinez-Picado.  "Unfortunately, this type of intervention is so complex and risky it would not be applicable on a large scale."

The other path toward a cure could come from so-called "controllers," whose bodies seem to be able to resist infection.

Martinez-Picado says the need for a cure is still crucial.  He said "for every person who starts antiretroviral therapy, two new individuals are infected with HIV."

The United Nations says 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and that 1.7 million died from the disease in 2011.

This year's International AIDS Conference has drawn an estimated crowd of tens of thousands of people from around the globe.

Related report by Jerome Socolovsky

Play Recalls Early Denial of AIDS Crisisi
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Jerome Socolovsky
July 23, 2012
As scientists, political leaders and activists meet at the 19th annual AIDS conference here in Washington, a Tony-award winning play at a nearby theater recalls the early days of the epidemic, when gay men faced an uphill battle in getting help. As VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports, the production of The Normal Heart was timed to coincide with the AIDS conference.

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