The latest international news, analysis and features on the HIV epidemic from Avert. Share your views and expertise with your peers in the comments box below the articles.
‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Brown was cured of HIV after he received stem cells from a patient who was naturally immune. Since then, research groups have tried to recreate this natural immunity. Researchers at Harvard Stem Cell Institute have recently published research on how blood cells can be made inaccessible to HIV.
HIV can be hidden in the body for years before quickly replicating itself and attacking the immune system. Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered a new protein (Ssu72), responsible for the activation of HIV, and believe this can be a new target for HIV treatment. The protein, which participates in the activation of the HIV-1, is part of a switch that wakes up the virus.
A recent study has attempted to further understand why Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the Berlin man, was cured of HIV in 2006 after living with the virus for 11 years. The research has narrowed down critical factors that were involved in eliminating the HIV virus from Brown’s body. Brown remains the only known case of someone who has been cured of HIV and his case has subsequently gained immense interest among researchers striving to find a cure for HIV.
Researchers at Duke University recently announced that they might have found a breakthrough in the development of an HIV vaccine for infants. After reanalysing findings from two historic paediatric HIV vaccine trials performed in the 1990s, evidence was found that it might be possible to develop a vaccine to prevent HIV transmission form mother-to-child during breastfeeding.
The US National Institute of Health (NIH) is beginning a study to ascertain whether an aggressive treatment regime started soon after birth can effectively cure an infant of HIV. The global study is hoping to emulate the case of the ‘Mississippi baby’, who gained notoriety in 2013 after being functionally cured of HIV – a state where a very small amount of the virus is present, but is unable to replicate.