Has A Cure For HIV Just Been Found?

Photographed by Tayler Smith.
A British man could soon become the first person in the world to be cured of HIV after a trial using a groundbreaking new therapy, conducted by doctors and scientists from British universities.

The new technique is designed to destroy the virus in its entirety, including unidentified dormant cells that are not eradicated by treatments currently used to combat the disease, reported The Sunday Times.

The therapy is still in the early stages of development and the 44-year-old gay man, who has not been identified, is the first of 50 people being given the treatment.

Early tests have had promising results so far – the virus could not be detected in the man's blood, however this could be a result of the standard HIV drugs he has been taking simultaneously, which can clear the disease from the body for a short time.

It will therefore be months before we know for sure whether the man has been permanently cured of HIV.

Mark Samuels, managing director of the National Institute for Health Research Office for Clinical Research Infra­structure, was positive about the outcome so far. He said: “This is one of the first serious attempts at a full cure for HIV," The Sunday Times reported.

"We are exploring the real possibility of curing HIV. This is a huge challenge and it’s still early days but the progress has been remarkable.”

The unidentified man taking part in the trial, a social care worker in London, said: “It would be great if a cure has happened. My last blood test was a couple of weeks ago and there is no detectable virus," reported The Sunday Times.

“However, that could be the anti-retroviral therapies [Art], so we have to wait to be sure.”

Conventional HIV treatment involves anti-retroviral drugs, which stop the disease from developing but do not eradicate it completely.

But the new treatment, developed by researchers at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London, aims to attack dormant infected cells around the body.

“I took part in the trial to help others as well as myself,” said the unidentified patient. “It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease. The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible.”

There are roughly 37 million people worldwide with HIV, for whom this treatment, if ultimately successful, will prove life changing.

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