An experiment hopes for a cure to HIV this week in Oxford University, after the infection disappeared from a patient's blood using the Kick and Kill method, despite numerous publications remaining skeptical about this method.

This week LetsGetChecked reviews the study, tells you about the symptoms of H.I.V and looks to the future of the kick and kill method.


Contents


Kick And Kill HIV: The Latest


Five of the UK’s top universities have come together to create a cure for HIV. So far the results of the new treatment are promising. Scientists reported that the virus became completely undetectable in a patient’s blood after the trial was completed.

However, the results may be a result of regular drugs. For the trial to represent the first complete cure the patient also needs to clear dormant cells writes The Telegraph.

More than 100,000 people in Britain are living with HIV. Around 17% of these people are not aware of the infection.

In the last few years the number of people infected with HIV worldwide has increased, proving that a cure for HIV and regular HIV-testing is extremely important.


Kick And Kill HIV: Know The Symptoms


Worldwide, 37 million people are infected with HIV. It is so difficult to treat because it targets the immune system, splicing itself into the DNA of T-cells so the disease turns into viral factories which reproduce the virus.

Anti-retroviral therapies (ART) target that process but they cannot spot dormant infected T-cells. 2 to 8 weeks after infection a person may display signs and symptoms of a seroconversion illness. Symptoms may include:

  • a red rash across the torso, arms and legs
  • painful raised nodes, usually on the neck, arms, groin
  • weight loss
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • weight loss

After the initial symptoms, the virus can lie dormant in the patient’s cells for up to ten years. HIV is spread predominantly through bodily fluids like blood, semen and vaginal fluid transferred through sexual exposure. HIV may also be spread through the sharing of infected needles.

The three stages of HIV include latent, symptomatic and late stage HIV.


Kick and Kill: The Method


The new treatment aims to create a cure for HIV by combining standard anti-retroviral drugs with a drug that reactivates dormant HIV and a vaccine that induces the immune system to destroy the infected cells. The treatment has been named “Kick and Kill.”

In total 50 HIV-positive people are taking part in the trial. Professor Sarah Fidler, a physician at Imperial College London, added: “This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones.

“It has worked in the laboratory. And there is good evidence it will work in humans too, but we must stress we are still a long way from any actual therapy.”

“We will continue with medical tests for the next five years and at the moment we are not recommending stopping ART. Depending on the test results we may explore this in the future.”

A cure for cancer might be close, but if you have been uncareful you should still check often.


Kick And Kill HIV: The Future


The results of the trial are not expected to be published until 2018, and even if this treatment proves successful it has only been attempted on people who were recently infected. Thus there is no guarantee it would work on people who have had HIV for a long time, according to BBC.

However. the treatment is cause for optimism. “I’m really excited by the recent developments regarding a potential cure for the HIV virus.” says HIV activist Philip Baldwin told The Telegraph. “The first person to complete an experimental course of treatment has cleared the virus. I was diagnosed with HIV in 2010 when I was 24 years old. It took me a number of years to come to terms with my HIV. The research is great progress and I hope that these early results will be repeated throughout the trial group. This is an important step towards a world free of the fear of HIV.”


Kick And Kill HIV: Further Study


The British scientists are not the first who attempt to find a cure for HIV. Timothy Ray Brown is the only person to have ever been cleared of the virus. He was cleared after he received a bone marrow transplant from a person who was naturally immune to the virus.

However, stem cell transplants are difficult and potentially dangerous for the recipient. Therefore, they are only undertaken where they can save a life. An American study attempted to edit genes in 80 HIV patients so that they would develop a natural immunity to HIV.

According to BBC one of the volunteers, Matt Chappell, has been off all antiretroviral medication for two years since having his immune cells edited. It is however too early to be sure that the virus will not reappear.

Despite a possible cure for HIV being just around the corner, regular HIV testing and correct use of condoms remains extremely important to protect against the virus.


Read: Living with...H.I.V.


Written by Hannah Kingston | Approved by Medical Director Dominic Rowley