Feb 6, 2009
what are the limitations in finding the cure for hiv
Response from Dr. Frascino
Time for an HIV cure reality check, as this question comes up frequently. Care to guess how many viral disease we can cure today with medical therapy? One! That's right; only one: hepatitis C. And even hepatitis C is cured only very infrequently! Sure we can prevent some viral illnesses, like mumps, measles, rubella, etc. And some viral infections can subside but remain dormant in the body forever or have periodic flare-ups (herpes, EBV, for example). Many viral infections resolve spontaneously over time, such as the flu or common cold. And of course there are those viruses that can plant us six feet under very, very quickly, such as Ebola. HIV is a very clever and tricky virus indeed. It hides out in the genetic material (DNA) of some of our longest-lived human cells. This makes it extremely difficult to wipe out HIV without wiping out the human host at the same time.
Lots of folks get frustrated that a cure hasn't been found. Conspiracy theorist crackpots think that pharmaceutical companies or the government are withholding the cure to make money. This, of course, is pure lunacy. After all, there are loads of other chronic incurable diseases we haven't yet conquered, such as asthma, diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, high blood pressure, arthritis, etc. Some of these illnesses, like HIV, are becoming more manageable as we learn more about them and develop new and novel therapies. Will there ultimately be a cure for HIV? I, for one, certainly remain hopeful.
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