Understanding HIV/AIDS

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus responsible for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).



How Close is the World to HIV/AIDS Cure?

HIV/AIDS. The sound of it alone got many shivering those early days. It got the reputation for being one of the scariest words of the late 1980s to early 1990s. with over 35 million deaths worldwide, HIV-AIDS was previously a death sentence. It was popular, it was intimidating, it was everything you don’t want to be associated with. Somehow, by virtue of the scare that it was, the AIDS acronym got many full expressions that goes from funny to ridiculous, like ‘American Invention to Discriminate Against Sex’.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus responsible for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In its early days, the fate of infected individuals was as good as sealed. Sadly enough, many died not from the infection itself, but from the discrimination, isolation and stigma consequent upon infection. Despite knowing that the virus can be contacted through various means (related to exposure to the body fluids of an infected person, including mother-to-child transmission, people still stigmatized sufferers and isolated them.

Over the years, the rave about HIV/AIDS had died down drastically. It is no more in the news everyday as it used to be and it appears it probably doesn’t exist again. The truth is that HIV and AIDS are still top public health concerns with over 50,000 new cases reported annually in the US alone. Some useful and interesting current facts about the relevance of HIV/AIDS today include the following:

As at 2018, 37.9 million people are living with HIV (PLHIV) across the globe, 36.2 million were adults while 1.7 million were children under 15 years of age.

There were over 1.7 million new infections in 2018, 160, 000 of them are below 15 years

21 percent (8.1 million) of PLHIV don’t know their HIV status
Not everyone with HIV infection goes on to becomes an AIDS patient; with proper treatment/management through antiretroviral therapy (ART), PLHIV can live normal lives.

The highest risk group is gay men who account for about 70 percent of new cases in the USA; heterosexuals accounted for 24 percent of new cases with almost 70% of those being women.

Women living with HIV/AIDS can conceive and birth uninfected children; with proper management, the risk of mother-to-child transmission can be lower than 1%.

Since 1986 when HIV/AIDS cases started to be reported in Malaysia, there has been a total of 105,189 cases, 21,384 AIDS and 17,096 deaths related to HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS, like any other deadly disease, can have very far-reaching effects on individuals, households, and communities. Concerted efforts by the United Nations and governments across the globe has however paid off and substantial progress has been made in its treatment. The number of new cases has reduced, access to treatment and ART has improved, and mother-to-child transmission rate is very low. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is continues to invest in HIV/AIDS research with the ultimate goal of promoting prevention and finding cure.

Latest information on HIV/AIDS Treatment and Possible Cure

November 2019: American Gene Technologies (AGT) has submitted a drug application to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to sell a potential cure for HIV, claiming it has finally gone beyond ART drugs to real HIV/AIDS cure. Howbeit, it will usually take several years for final approval to offer the drug publicly to be secured.

September 2019: Scientists at the University of California San Diego, found a molecular “kill switch” that stops infected cells reproducing. This holds the promise of lifelong drug treatment that can prevent the virus leading to Aids. However, the virus only remains dormant and can reawaken if therapy is stopped.

July 2019: In what was considered a ‘world first’, researchers at Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, reported how a sequence of two treatments could completely remove the virus in mice

May 2019: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh claimed a promising treatment whose findings can provide a foundation for HIV vaccine.

December 2018: In Ghana, the breakthrough discovery of herbal-based drug was announced by a medical doctor at the Centre of Awareness (COA) Global Peace Mission with claims that the drug could destroy about 80 per cent of the HIV virus within two hours of its administration. However, this comes with a negative effect on the human DNA. The medical doctor behind the discovery, a Fellow of the Civilian Institute of Democratic Administration (FCIDA), was awarded an Honorary Professorship for this discovery in Accra in July 2018.
As the world continue to wait on a potent cure for HIV/AIDS, there is a strong need for public education on HIV/AIDS to continue. Most sexually active young of today were not yet born in the early days of HIV/AIDS and most likely either missed the lessons or assume HIV/AIDS is some myth that is not worth giving attention to. The need to continue public enlightenment campaigns is as strong today as it was in the 80s and 90s.

Written by: Bosede Edwards

Further Readings

https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/cure#vaccine
https://www.myjoyonline.com/lifestyle/2018/December-21st/cure-for-hiv-and-aids-potentially-discovered-in-ghana.php
https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Dr-Duncan-honoured-for-discovery-of-potential-cure-for-HIV-AIDS-759774#