AIDS can be cured in as little as 5 years

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HIV conference near Munich: A complete AIDS cure could be possible in five years

The immune deficiency disease AIDS could be curable in a good five years. This is the thesis of the internist and head of the renowned 14th Munich AIDS and Hepatitis Days, Dr. med. Hans Jäger. At the congress, scientists report on new therapeutic approaches that could make it possible to cure the immune deficiency disease in the near future.

AIDS could be curable in five years According to the World Health Organization WHO, around 34 million people worldwide carry the HIV virus. The HI virus was first discovered about 30 years ago. To date, around 37 million people have died of AIDS. Every year, around 500 people die in Germany from the currently incurable disease. However, leading scientists now see numerous new approaches to promote the recovery of HIV patients. "Healing research has made more progress in the past 12 months than ever before," said Jäger on the sidelines of the event. The expert believes "that a realistic period in which we can heal is five years." However, the research is not yet ready to implement a protective vaccine. "We have no vaccinations and will not get them in the next few years," says the expert.

First successful healing three years ago
A successful bone marrow transplant (KMT) in 2008 in Berlin showed that the statements are no longer as futuristic as they sound. Specialists had freed a patient from the virus at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin. After the successful operation, there were no more HI viruses in the patient's blood. However, the rather accidentally discovered treatment method is too complex to apply to all those affected, Jäger explained. The then 42-year-old patient had received bone marrow cells from a donor who was apparently immune to the AIDS-causing virus. About one percent of all people have a body's own defense system that gives the AIDS virus no chance. It was precisely these findings that spurred many research approaches.

Cancer drug reaches hidden cells
However, a therapy that was recently presented at an international congress in Seattle makes us hopeful. With the anti-cancer active ingredient vorinostat, extensive studies have succeeded in finding hidden cells in which the virus was dormant despite drug treatment. A large number of viruses can be killed with the drugs developed so far, but many survive in so-called slumber cells. "This drug has managed to release viruses from latently infected cells, which can then be reached and destroyed by the known drugs."

HI-Viral load can keep medication low. Even today, the means could minimize the viral load in the blood so that it is practically no longer possible to pass it on. This is fundamentally important, especially for couples, so that the non-infected partner does not become infected. Only with the help of medication could patients continue to live a relatively normal life. The concept of this treatment is called “prevention through therapy,” says the internist.

Prevention and efforts must not let up
From March 16 to 18, doctors, researchers, lawyers, psychologists, social pedagogues, those affected and nurses will be discussing the latest knowledge and research on the AIDS and hepatitis days near Munich. Despite many positive reports about the recent decline in the rate of new HIV infections in Germany "our efforts in terms of prevention and cure must not slacken", Jäger warned at the beginning of the event. Because the number of infections and deaths is increasing worldwide. That is why “intensive research and adequate therapies are more important than ever.” Around 1500 experts take part in the congress. Networking should make it possible at the weekend to incorporate the latest knowledge from the 19th CROI (Conference of Retroviruses and Oportunistic Infections), which took place a few days before the conference in the USA. In addition to passing on specialist knowledge, topics such as homosexuality and HIV infections in Islam as well as preventive work in schools have also been added. In addition to medical professionals, those affected are also involved in the organization of the workshops and seminars. The conference will continue until Sunday. (sb)

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Image: Gerd Altmann /

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