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HIV Cure – Just another fantasy?
2016-07-27

Description: HIV Cure – Just another fantasy? Tags: HIV Cure – Just another fantasy?

Dr Dominique Goedhals, Prof John Frater,
Dr Thabiso Mofokeng and Dr Jacob Jansen van Vuuren,
attended the lecture. Prof Frater has been working in
collaboration with the UFS Department of Internal
Medicine on HIV resistance and HIV immunology
since 2007.

Photo: Nonsindiso Qwabe

Twenty-years ago, after a person had been diagnosed with HIV, their lifespan did not exceed three years, but thanks to the success of antiretroviral therapy programmes, life expectancy has risen by an average of ten years. However, is antiretroviral therapy always going to be for life? This is the societal issue that Professor John Frater, addressed in his talk at the University of the Free State. He is an MRC Senior Clinical Fellow, Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases at  Oxford University.

Antiretroviral medicine therapeutic

The discovery of antiretroviral therapy - the use of HIV medicines to treat the virus - has had a positive effect on the health and well-being of people living with it, improving their quality of life. Unfortunately, if treatment is stopped, HIV rebounds to the detriment of the patient. Now, research has shown that some patients, who are treated soon after being infected by HIV, may go off treatment for prolonged periods. Work is being done to predict who will be able to stop treatment.

“The difference made by starting treatment earlier is enormous. Delaying treatment is denying yourself the right to health,” Professor Frater says. However, this does not mean that the virus is cured. “A person can live for ten years without being on HIV treatment, but is that enough?” he went on to ask.

Healthy lifestyles encouraged

The National Department of Health will adopt a test and treat immediately strategy later this year to improve patient health and curb the spread of HIV. ,This is another reason why everybody should know their status and start treatment as soon as possible.

Search for a cure continues

More research is being conducted to establish whether HIV can be eradicated. Remission gives hope that a permanent cure may be found eventually. “Will a cure for HIV ever be found? Time will tell,” he concluded.

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