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Curing HIV Removes the Scars of the Past

Selected Research Highlight From CROI 2013

March 25, 2013

One small but encouraging piece of news about the lone adult considered cured of HIV, Timothy Brown, was to be found in a presentation by Joyce Sanchez from the University of Minnesota (abstract, webcast -- second in session). Sanchez's study focused on lymphoid structure abnormalities in people with HIV, particularly fibrotic (scarring) damage to lymph tissue resulting from persistent HIV replication and associated immune activation. The extent of lymph tissue fibrosis can be quantified by measuring collagen deposition using imaging techniques. Sanchez showed that in gut lymph tissue, even HIV controllers (individuals with low viral loads in the absence of ART) have levels of collagen deposition that are higher than those of uninfected individuals (15.9% compared with 7%). However, samples from Timothy Brown showed levels of collagen deposition comparable to the uninfected study participants (6.8%), consistent with studies showing no HIV activity in his body (despite the occasional detection of viral genetic material that was reported last year).

Richard Jefferys is the coordinator of the Michael Palm HIV Basic Science, Vaccines & Prevention Project Weblog at the Treatment Action Group (TAG). The original blog post may be viewed here.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Emmauel peter (from nigerian ) Tue., Apr. 9, 2013 at 6:58 am UTC
Hello doctor i heard there have decoverd cure for hiv and aids is this true please reply me
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Comment by: Emmauel (Nigeria) Sat., Apr. 6, 2013 at 2:48 am UTC
is hiv/aids cure has been aproved yet pls i need a reply
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Comment by: Jeff Dougherty (Watertown, MA) Fri., Mar. 29, 2013 at 10:35 am UTC
As a long term HIV/AIDS survivor (22 years), I am very closely following the 'CURE' developments. However, even were I to be cured tomorrow, the PHYSICAL scars of the past might be healed, I do not see a day when the emotional scars will disappear. I am 60 years old, and the losses of the past 30 years of so so many friends, my health, a career and financial security--do not leave me.
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Comment by: Peer A. (Copenhagen, Denmark) Fri., Apr. 12, 2013 at 6:14 am UTC
Jeff, those words really touched me. I feel the same way. Having been positive since 1984 and having seen so many friends die there is a melancholia in my life that few of my living relatives and friends understand. I am 56, and glad to be alive but often wonder what my life would have been like without this disease that have deprived to many of us of the happy youth we would otherwise have had.
Comment by: michael (los angeles) Fri., Apr. 12, 2013 at 7:15 am UTC
this is what many people who have not been living with this disease do not understand.

i actually had a very interesting conversion with my general doctor, not my HIV specialist.....i came to him a few weeks ago to discuss why my hair might be thinning and a growing mid section and we got to the subject of depression and he asked me if i was seeing someone or even making an effort.....

of course, i was blunt. i told him, nothing really has change as far as my mental state, maybe a little bit of acceptance of my part after nearly 5 years of living with HIV.....labs are good and i get bye and live better each day....but as far as a love life goes, i told him, that is not really an option at the moment since no one really knows, not even my family, about my hiv status.....only my doctors......

he asked me i bluntly told him because there is still a huge stigma that is attached with the disease.......he gave me the politically correct speech about magic johnson and how it's not a death sentence anymore and it's not as bad as something like cancer......

i bluntly told him, with all due respect doctor, it's not the same. people don't see hiv the way they see cancer. there is disgust and ignorance when it comes to hiv.......the average person do not know what you know about viral loads and cd4's and the average person is not like you (doctor) who understands these things and that the chances of contracting hiv from my undetectable viral load is about greater than the odds of dying from a plane crash or a lightning strike......the general public empathizes with a cancer patient while they associate hiv with being dirty....there are rare people of course who could care less, but those odds are the same as me dying from a bolt of lightning.....

funny enough, our conversation ended there and he prescribed me some anti-depressants, lol......which, of course did nothing but simply gave me a rash......
Comment by: ChiGuy (Chicago) Tue., Apr. 30, 2013 at 6:18 pm UTC
Man, is this the truth. The emotional scars are the worst part of this.

Comment by: Tim (Dunedin, New Zealand) Fri., Mar. 29, 2013 at 7:40 am UTC
This is good news. Thank you. We all hope for news of "the cure". But after "the cure" we will be hoping that our immune systems will recover from years of HIV infection. This research suggests that that's possible.
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Comment by: phakathi (south africa) Fri., Mar. 29, 2013 at 1:54 am UTC
Is it hiv/aids cure been approved yet.
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Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.


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