There are many drugs that are used in the fight against HIV. But one that has not yet been invented to cure the human immunodeficiency virus. How is HIV being treated today? What are the results of treatment? Let’s get to the bottom of it.

For many years, scientists have been looking for a drug that will completely cure HIV, AIDS. Why has it not been possible so far to come up with such a cure?

Questions and answers about a vaccine that will defeat AIDS

It is because the virus is embedded in a human cell’s genome, and it is extremely difficult to beat this information about it, recorded in the cell’s genome. So far, unfortunately, there is no such radical remedy that would remove the virus completely. Of course, there is a search underway. New ideas are emerging. Perhaps you have heard of the “Berlin patient”? There are people who are not infected with HIV. They do not have CCR5 receptors and the virus has nowhere to attach itself. The “Berlin patient” was treated for HIV, but had leukemia. He needed a bone marrow transplant and was selected to have a donor who did not have CCR5 receptors. Then, after the bone marrow transplant, HIV in the “Berlin patient” was no longer defined… The scientists’ idea went in the direction that it may be possible to artificially create a mutation of the CCR5 receptor… Many different ideas exist. And I think that humanity will eventually solve this problem, find a cure that will defeat HIV. It is a matter of time…

There is no miracle vaccine, but nevertheless, HIV-positive people can lead normal lives. Thanks to what drugs, what kind of treatment?

The turning year for HIV treatment is 1996. That’s when antiretroviral drugs, so-called protease inhibitors, appeared. And the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) began. Whereas previously it was said that HIV was a disease that would surely lead to death, today it is a chronic managed infection. That is, with antiretroviral drugs in our hands, we can make sure that the virus stops multiplying in our bodies (it kind of “falls asleep”). Thanks to this, human immunity is restored (because the virus does not affect new cells in the immune system that are produced daily in the body). And if before antiretroviral therapy appeared, the average life expectancy of an HIV-positive person was about 11 years from the moment of infection, now a patient with HIV can live as long as an average person lives.

To live this long, what rules must be followed?

Questions and answers about a vaccine that will defeat AIDS

There are people who were diagnosed, for example, in 2000, and they have not been seen by doctors after that. And today they come to us in a very serious condition, some of us do not even have time to help. There are no miracles. The most important thing for a person diagnosed with HIV is to be observed and treated on time, and to take antiretroviral therapy. Nowadays, most physicians tend to think that therapy should start as soon as possible. Because we know from both our own experience and from foreign scientific information that the longer a person is immune deficient (although he or she may be feeling well), the faster he or she will develop HIV infection, and it is possible that he or she may later have other sore spots like cancer….

Antiretroviral drugs are said to have many side effects. How dangerous are they and in what cases?

Of course, antiretroviral drugs are not caramel… The side effects can be divided into early and late side effects. Early effects occur during the first six weeks of taking the drugs. These side effects are usually divided into two types: those that need to be waited and they will pass (for example, nausea – the first month nausea, then passes; there is an allergic rash, which also passes with time), and severe – when the drug does not fit the person. Moreover, often the side effects are genetically programmed. For example, some patients have a reaction of hypersensitivity to abacavir… These are early side effects. The rule here is: in no case at the beginning of therapy do not break away from the doctor, do not go anywhere, so that the doctor holds what is called a hand on pulse. He will immediately determine if these side effects are not life threatening. Then it will be possible to calm the patient, to wait for these effects.

If the side effects are life-threatening (for example, the patient has a sharp decrease in hemoglobin in the blood), then it is necessary to change drugs?

As for late side effects… Here, the most important thing is to be well observed. A person should take tests on time and have an instrumental examination. The doctor will see and prevent these side effects, will change the regimen of taking medication.

And if you do not take the therapy, let the disease go, as they say, on its own?

Then, the disease will progress. 80% of patients who are not on therapy, live on average 11 years. About 15% may live more. And there are patients who “burn” just 3 years after infection… The duration of the disease depends on both the aggressiveness of the virus and the person.