HIV has killed 32 million people since it first spread in the 80s, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Up until now, there has been no cure for HIV. Very effective drug treatments have enabled most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life, however. Now the fortunes of millions of people across the world could be set to dramatically change.
A Brazilian man in his mid-30s with HIV has gone into long-term remission after treatment with drugs alone.
It is thought to be the first case of a HIV patient going into remission following pharmaceutical treatment.
Doctors report that the patient was prescribed an intense multi-drug cocktail of AIDS medicines, including antiretroviral therapy, or ART.
It was also supplemented with additional antiretrovirals, plus a drug called nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3.
“This case is extremely interesting, and I really hope that it may boost further research into an HIV cure,” Andrea Savarino, a doctor at Italy’s Institute of Health who co-led the trial, said in an interview with the UK charity NAM AIDSmap.
There are some limitations to the study worth highlighting, however.
The researchers note that four other HIV-positive patients treated in the trial with the same intensified drug cocktail saw no positive effect.
“The result is highly likely not to be reproducible,’ said Dr Savarino.
She added: “This is a very first (preliminary) experiment, and I wouldn’t foresee beyond that.”
What are the symptoms associated with HIV?
According to the NHS, most people infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs two-six weeks after infection.
“After this, HIV may not cause any symptoms for several years,” says the health body.
It’s estimated up to 80 percent of people who are infected with HIV experience this flu-like illness.
The most common symptoms are:
- Raised temperature (fever)
- Sore throat
- Body rash
Other symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Swollen glands
“The symptoms usually last one to two weeks, but can be longer. They’re a sign that your immune system is putting up a fight against the virus,” says the NHS.
Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have the HIV virus because they are also associated with less serious conditions.
But you have several of these symptoms and think you’ve been at risk of HIV infection within the past few weeks, you should get an HIV test, advises the NHS.