The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the cells that help the body to fight infection, making the person more vulnerable to infections and diseases. It is transmitted by having contact with bodily fluids of a person with HIV, including having unprotected sex or through sharing of syringes.
In treating HIV, doctors commonly prescribe patients with antiretroviral drugs to stop the virus from replicating inside the body, allowing the immune system to repair itself. Surgical treatment on HIV patients is also necessary for both non- and related HIV infection.
But recently, MailOnline reported that a 34-year-old man from Brazil has gone into long-term remission after undergoing treatment using drugs alone, a first on history. This boosts hope for millions of people who are living with the virus.
Doctors report that the patient, nicknamed 'Sao Paolo patient' was prescribed a multi-drug cocktail of AIDS medicines in a 48-week course of treatment. Moreover, two other people are believed to have been cured of HIV as well but both of them undergone bone marrow transplants.
First Cured HIV Patient Using Drugs Alone
In 2012, the unnamed man was diagnosed with HIV, and he was part of the pioneering course of medication for 48 weeks. Over a year later, his DNA and cells were assessed, which came back as negative for HIV.
Study Co-lead Ricardo Diaz from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil told The Telegraph: "We can't search the entire body, but by the best evidence, we do not have infected cells."
But he thinks that the results were promising and that the patient might be cured.
Moreover, Dr Andrea Savarino of Italy's Institute of Health and who also co-led the trial, said in an interview with the United Kingdom charity NAM AIDS map, that the Sao Paulo patient's case is fascinating and it could improve further the research into the cure for HIV.
However, the researchers cautioned that there are four other HIV-positive patients treated in the trial with similar intensified drug cocktail have shown no positive effect.
"The result is highly likely not to be reproducible," Dr Savarino said. "This a very first (preliminary) experiment, and I wouldn't foresee beyond that," she added.
The Race for an HIV Cure
The world right now is focused on finding a cure for COVID-19, making it more challenging to find a cure for HIV.
As of date, HIV has already infected more than 75 million people worldwide and killed approximately 33 million since the AIDS epidemic started in the 1980s. Those patients who have access to drugs for AIDS were able to control the virus and keep their disease in check.
Despite efforts of stopping its spread, there are still 37 million people in the world living with the disease and most of them, around 25 million, live in Africa.
The report of a Brazilian man who is seemingly cured of HIV-1 after treatment with multiple antiretroviral drugs (ARV) in combination with Vitamin B3, if true, is the first solely drug-induced AIDS cure, says Dr Jonathan Stoye, head of the Retrovirus-Host Interactions Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute.
But previous studies of ARV intensification have not suggested a path to curing an HIV patient. It must be noted that the case of the man is rare, Dr Stoye added.
On the other hand, there were already two cases of remission in men who are described by doctors as 'functionally cured.' They were treated with a highly risky and complicated bone marrow transplants.