AIDS


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In late honor of World AIDS Day, I want to talk to about a roadmap for how the U.S. Government will work to help achieve a generation free of AIDS. Often, science and government need to collaborate to cure, prevent and fund too common diseases like AIDS.

So what has been recently been done to find a cure?
A lot! This link can tell you all about the efforts of The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other scientific efforts that have been done.

For this blog I just want to talk about a promising vaccination that boosts immune system T cells and prepares them to attack HIV, before readying the virus for eradication by reactivating it. Scientists from Johns Hopkins created this vaccine.
HIV has long been known to persist in a dormant, inactive state inside immune system T cells even long after powerful drugs have stopped the virus from making copies of itself to infect other cells. But once treatment is stopped or interrupted, the latent virus quickly reactivates; HIV disease progresses, and researchers say it has proven all but impossible to wipe out these pockets of infection. source

Siliciano and other AIDS scientists say the best hope for ultimately curing the disease is to force dormant viruses to “turn back on,” making them “visible” to the immune system’s “killer” T cells and then, with the likely aid of drugs, eliminate the infected cells from the body. In his new study, Siliciano showed that infected T cells survived after dormant the virus was reactivated, and were only killed off when other immune system T cells knew that the virus was there before they reactivated.

“Our study results strongly suggest that a vaccination to boost the immune response immediately prior to reactivating latent virus may be essential for totally eradicating HIV infection,” says Siliciano, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. There is still work to be done regarding finding a definite vaccine cure.

However, another topic I think is interesting is the relationship between adequate diet and the response to anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Individuals infected with HIV have special nutritional needs, such as increased energy requirements, irrespective of whether they use ART. Maintaining adequate food consumption and nutrient intake levels and meeting the special nutritional needs the disease generates are critical for all PLWHA. Proper nutrition helps to strengthen the immune system, manage opportunistic infections, optimizes response to medical treatment, and may contribute to slowing the progression of the disease. source

This illustrates there should be equal efforts in finding the cure for HIV and making sure that those with the disease eat sufficiently. This is more of a problem in third world countries where most don’t have sufficient to eat.

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