Aug 23, 2003
If an undetectable viral load is acheived and sustained for a while lets say a year ( like mine) and i keep up the same level of excellent adherence is there a good chance it will work indefinately, or at least long enough for a cure? I feel great but i want this to keep going until i live how long god intended me to. Thank you
Response from Dr. Cohen
So... at this point we can say this. An undetectable viral load is a very desirable outcome. Since when this happens - and stays there - then HIV and its ravages are no longer the concern. And for as long as HIV is under control - then we can focus on the other issues needed to stay well - including minimizing medication side effects, plus the non-HIV facts of healthy living. And if we can find a simple, zero-toxicity combo on which HIV is controlled - that is pretty close to the cure we seek.
Except you'd need to take pills each day to keep it controlled. And so we are looking for alternatives to daily pills to keep HIV controlled - including treatment interruption studies, plus immune stimulants to help the body's own immune system control HIV if we stopped the antivirals. We have leads and options and even some data that might give us some breaks from daily pill taking - but this is still research, and remains to be proven. But we are making some progress in getting there someday.
As for a real cure - meaning stopping these antivirals -- and all meds -- and then having no HIV around - well - that one for now remains difficult to imagine - since this virus successfully hides in enough cells in the body that we just don't know how we'd get rid of them all... so while we continue to hope and search for the cure - we may wind up with a decent "second-best" - which is to make HIV essentially irrelevant to our lives.
And to that goal we are making steady progress - but years to go to get there...
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