- A small group of patients with HIV in France have been able to stop taking AIDS drugs without any resurgence of the virus in their bodies, giving scientists new hope that a “functional cure” for HIV may be possible. It’s a group of only 14 people, but it is still bringing hope to researchers. What’s special about this group is that they began retroviral treatment very soon after becoming infected with HIV – very uncommon because many people do not know they are infected with HIV at all. After taking medication for three years, they stopped, and it was found that the virus stayed at very low levels and did not produce illness.
From the article: “The existence of people who do not become ill even though they are infected with HIV – the so-called “HIV controllers” – is already known. The excitement felt by scientists over the Visconti cohort [the name of the group of patients] is because it appears that medical intervention has brought about similar results.”
This news is further evidence for the importance of regular testing, because early detection is proving necessary for preventing complications associated with the virus. Hopefully with HIV testing going over the counter, early detection will become even more common.
- In even more good news: Research shows that the cost of HIV treatment in Africa is far less than expected. The Clinton Health Access Initiative did research on the cost of treatment, hoping to find ways to make it cheaper, and found that “the total cost of treatment in health facilities – including drugs, lab tests, health workers’ salaries and other overheads – comes to an average of $200 a patient a year across Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia – four of the AIDS-hit African nations studied. That rises to $682 in South Africa, which has higher salaries and lab costs. Until now the generally accepted total cost of treating a patient for a year was an average of $880 – based on a study by the U.S. president’s emergency plan for AIDS relief (Pepfar) released at the last International Aids Conference two years ago in Vienna.”
That means that much money is still needed for international treatment, but it’s far less of a burden than expected. It’s hoped that the decrease in expected cost will inspire more donations, since any money given will go further and help more people.
Don’t forget, you can get cheap and confidential HIV testing at your local Planned Parenthood.