Dubai: Health experts say making progress to find a cure for HIV

Various breakthroughs, potential treatments for the disease were discussed at the ongoing Arab Health exhibition


Waheed Abbas

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Supplied photo
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Published: Wed 1 Feb 2023, 2:27 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Feb 2023, 7:52 PM

Health experts on Wednesday revealed that they are making progress to find a cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease.

At the ongoing Arab Health exhibition in Dubai, health experts discussed different breakthroughs and potential cures for HIV, including latency reversal, non-pill antiretroviral therapy (ART), broadly neutralising antibodies, immunotherapy and gene therapy.

“Although a cure for HIV is extremely rare, it is indeed possible. With Single Cell Technologies transforming our understanding of HIV latency (the clinically latent infection stage, also referred to as asymptomatic HIV infection), the current strategies for achieving an HIV cure include latency reversal, immunotherapy and gene therapy,” said professor Sharon Lewin, director, Doherty Institute, Melbourne, Australia and president of the International Aids Society (IAS).

The experts also highlighted that 70 per cent of people with HIV globally received effective ART in 2021. Today, patients only take a single daily tablet. Last year, the first non-pill long-acting treatment was introduced where patients receive just six injections a year to stop the transmission of the virus.

It is estimated that 38.4 million people are suffering from HIV and 1.5 million people were infected with the disease last year.

Although a 2022 UN Aids report showed a 30 per cent decline in infections in the decade since 2010, regions including the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia have seen infection rates are increasing due to limited access to prevention services and limited access to non-pill antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Lewin expects that the first approach to achieve HIV remission will be with combination of immune therapy and an ex vivo cure with gene or cellular therapy.

“Ultimately, an in vivo cure is what we are after, and a single-shot cure for everyone with HIV remains a long way off, but it is where we are headed,” he added.


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