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New Technology Helps Fight Against HIV/AIDS
2019-04-19 16:17:16
Maricor Zapata

[메디컬리포트=Maricor Zapata 기자]

Photo by: typographyimages via Pixabay

Deaths because of HIV/AIDS have gone down dramatically the past decade globally.In 2015, about 1.1 million people died from HIV, down by 45 percent from 2005, and 26 percent lower than the HIV-related deaths in 2010, data from the World Health Organization stated.

Victory in the war against HIV/AIDS was the result of different approaches to battling HIV, such as the introduction of a vaginal ring in Africa, prescription of drug cocktails, and the provision of antiretroviral drugs (ARV) to HIV-infected infants. 

Vaginal ring

About 75 percent of all HIV-related causes in 2015, or about 800,000 people, were from Africa.As the region with the greatest burden of HIV infection, it is apt that a new vaginal ring, called Dapivirine, will be tested in Africa after a six-month trial among teenagers in the US, which was successful.With the device's capacity to cut the chance of HIV infection by 56 percent, HIV-related deaths in the continent are expected to drop further in Africa at a faster pace.

The ring, which could be worn for a month, is treated with Dapivirine, an ARV.The function of the ring is to completely inhibit the reverse transcriptase enzyme of HIV.It is a protein that enables the virus to replicate and cause infections, Face2FaceAfrica reported.The flexiblering is placed on the cervix to protect African women from the virus.

Sharon Hillier, the principal investigator and vice chair of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, wants the vaginal ring to become available to all African women regardless of age because HIV does not distinguish between a teen and an aging victim, and they all deserve protection. 

When the vaginal ring was successfully trialed for six months on teenage American girls, who were sexually active, detectable levels of Dapivirne were found in their vaginas in 87 percent of the 96 trial participants. 

HIV drug cocktail

Newly diagnosed HIV patients could benefit if they are prescribed a cocktail of HIV medication at the start of their treatment, doctors recommended.  Deaths among patients who were given the cocktail declined by 27 percent, according to the results of a study, published in the New England Journalof Medicine, BBC reported. 

Besides the 27 percent reduction in death, there were substantial declines in several HIV-related ailments when the trial was conducted in Zimbabwe,Uganda, Malawi, and Kenya on 1,805 patients, age five and above.The largest decrease was by 62 percent in cryptococcal disease, followed bycandidiasis (58 percent), and tuberculosis (28 percent), while hospitalization dipped by 17 percent.

The drug cocktail was given to HIV patients with CD count of less than 100.The cocktail included antibiotics and standard ARV drugs for HIV.  A patient who has a CD count, which measures the health of the immune system, of below 50 has six times higher chances of dying within the next 24weeks compared with those with CD count higher than 100.

By just changing the HIV medication to the drug cocktail, over 10,000 lives could be saved each year.At the same time, the cocktail -- $5 moreexpensive than the standard treatment -- could also prevent TB, cryptococcal meningitis, and expensive hospitalizations, Professor Diana Gibb, fromthe MRC Clinical Trials Unit in the UK and co-author of the study, said.

ARV treatment for infants with HIV

An experiment more than eight years ago to treat an HIV-infected child in South Africa yielded good results, Sciencemag reported.The infant wasborn to a mother with HIV and was given ARV beginning when the baby turned eight weeks.The treatment was stoppedafter 40 weeks as part of the controlled clinical trial. 

After eight and a half years, the virus has not returned.It did not imply that the child's HIV infection was cured, rather, low levels of the virus wereleft.When standard tests are used, the HIV is invisible, but it could be detected using ultrasensitive tests, Mark Cotton, an HIV/AIDS clinical researcherat the Stellenbosch University in South Africa, shared on July 25 at an international AIDS conference. 

The treatment of the South African child is part of a large clinical trial, in which blood samples of HIV patients were collected and stored at regularintervals.However, it could be a one-off case because a similar one happened in Mississippi before.The baby had a similar history with the infant inSouth Africa, but unfortunately for the American baby who received media attention, the HIV rebounded after 27 months off treatment.

Meanwhile, at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, 23 patients in France began ARV treatment and their virus had remained undetected at an average ofseven years.In one patient, it was undetectable for almost 17 years.Another controlled trial with almost 200 patients showed that early treatmentcould lead to a long-term suppression of the HIV in at least some people, John Frater, a clinical researcher at Oxford University, said.

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