A SECOND person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1, according to a case study published yesterday in the journal Nature.

Effectively, some scientists believe that the “London patient” has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide.

The new case report comes more than 10 years after the first case, known as the “Berlin patient” tested negative.

Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV.
The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor in University College London’s Division of Infection and Immunity.

Meanwhile, a United States-based laboratory company, Abbott, is set to introduce a point of care technology to test, instantly, the viral load of people living with HIV and Aids in remote and under-resourced communities of Zimbabwe and Africa, a company official has revealed.

The technology, to be adopted by clinics, is in line with the United Nations (UN) 90-90-90, an ambitious target to end Aids.

According to the UN by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

In an interview with NewsDay, Abbott rapid diagnostics medical and scientific affairs Africa director Kuku Appiah said the point of care test kit allows doctors and nurses to account for the impact of the virus in a patient’s body and further helps medical practitioners to identify the load of medication which a patient needs in under seventy minutes.

“To have HIV care treatment, the World Health Organisation recommends a person living with HIV to get viral load tests every six months and one year. But a person will have to travel long distances to a clinic considering those in the rural areas who travel more than 10km to get to the nearest clinic. When tested, the blood is supposed to be taken to centralised laboratories and it can take up to two weeks before that person can get the results,” she said.

“With the new point of care test kit, a person gets tested at a clinic or point of care testing sites in their communities and gets the results in under 70 minutes.”

Appiah said the testing of viral load was essential to check if the medication being given to a patient was working and helps the doctors in correcting the medication.

-Newsday

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