Health

How are AIDS and HIV different? Medicine approaches a vaccine to control the disease

According to UNAIDS estimates, between 160,000 and 170,000 people in Spain live with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). And 14% are undiagnosed.

Currently patients must take the antiretroviral treatment (a combination of drugs to suppress HIV replication), as your immune system is not able to control the virus spontaneously.

It is a disease for which there is still no cure, but it does have a very effective and safe treatment.

And now, an investigation opens a new hope.

The results of the clinical trial of the HTI vaccine from the biotech company AELIX, in collaboration with Gilead Sciences, show that this injection can improve the response against the virus.

Scientists prove that the combination of vaccines is key against AIDS


This new investigation, which has recently been published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, has been carried out with 45 patients (44 men and 1 woman) with viral suppression for at least one year, which means that the amount of HIV in blood is very low.

Our T-cell vaccine approach has the potential to play a pivotal role in strategies to cure HIV infection.

To study its efficacy, once administered this vaccine participants temporarily discontinue antiretroviral treatment and virus levels in their blood are measured weekly for six months.

Thus, the efficacy of vaccination has been evaluated and how the use of the AELIX HTI vaccine can allow patients to interrupt Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for a prolonged period of at least six months.

As the Dr Christian Branderco-founder and scientific director of AELIX:

  • “Our T-cell vaccine approach has the potential to play a pivotal role in strategies to cure HIV infection.”

File image of a test to detect HIV WHO – Archive


Of all the patients analyzed (15 received placebo and 26 vaccines), 41 discontinued treatment and were studied for a total of 24 weeks.

The result was:

  1. 40% of those who received the vaccine have managed to go six months without this treatment.

  2. In the placebo group, all but one of the participants had to restart treatment before twelve weeks.

This vaccine “allows us to improve the suppression of the virus without medication”

This is how the Dr. Beatriz Motheprincipal investigator of the study from the Fight Against Infections Foundation and associate researcher at the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute.

  • “The positive results of this trial show that it is possible to induce an immune response in a person living with HIV, allowing for improved suppression of the virus in the absence of antiretroviral medication.”

The second phase of the clinical trial, which will begin in the coming months, called AELIX-003, aims to investigate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the vaccine in combination with the Toll-Like 7 (TLR7) receptor agonist, in 57 people. with HIV receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

devi senguptadirector of the HIV cure development program at Gilead Sciences, highlights that the path to a cure for this disease “is a complex scientific challenge and collaboration is key to catalyze research.”

HIV numbers continue to fall in Portugal, but remain among the highest in the EU


HIV and AIDS, are they the same?

HIV is not the same as AIDS, as he explained to this portal, on the occasion of the World Day against the Fight against AIDS, the doctor Vicenc Falcohead of the Infectious Diseases Service of the Vall d’Hebron Hospital.

  • “They are different phases of the same disease. And it is that, this virus affects the defenses, and when they are very deteriorated, complications begin (opportunistic infections due to the weakened immune system), which is what is known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)”.

That is, AIDS is the final phase of HIV.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

The symptomatology of the infection develops in three phases:

  1. The first phase goes unnoticed. It occurs between 2 and 4 weeks after infection and can cause symptoms very similar to those of the flu.
  2. In the second phase, called chronic, the retrovirus continues to infect cells, albeit very slowly. That is why medication with antiretroviral drugs is key. If the patient follows a treatment correctly and undergoes regular check-ups, the infection can become chronic, make it undetectable, and never develop AIDS.
  3. In the third and final phase, the virus has multiplied excessively and the patient’s immune defenses are unable to respond.

However, patients who are on treatment block the “natural history of the virus” so they do not develop AIDS and, therefore, other associated diseases such as:

  • Pneumonia.

  • yeast infection

  • Tuberculosis.

  • Cytomegalovirus.

  • Cryptococcal meningitis.

  • Toxoplasmosis.

“There is also a series of tumors associated with this immunosuppression, and it is worth highlighting the Kaposi’s sarcomaa skin cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue under the skin, or certain lymphomas (blood tumors)

How is HIV spread?

HIV is transmitted through four fluids: blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Which means that it can be transmitted by three routes: sexual (anal, vaginal or oral), blood and from mother to child.

  • It is not transmitted by saliva, tears or sweat.
  • Neither by insect bites

  • And neither by contact with pets.

Archive – HIV self-diagnosis test MYLAN – Archive


Undetectable = untransmittable

Currently, there are different drugs for people with HIV, which are increasingly “more powerful, better tolerated, with almost no toxicity and easy to take.”

Today, the vast majority of patients only have to take a single pill (a few years ago the treatment consisted of a cocktail of pills), which has improved the quality and Life expectancy“which almost comes close to uninfected people.”

  • But one of the best news is that antiretroviral treatment is capable of “eliminating this virus to the point where it is undetectable.”

This means that the viral load cannot be detected in blood tests, which causes “the disease to not progress and the immune system to recover.”

And another of the great advances has been to ensure that, if the viral load is undetectable, the disease is not transmitted “sexually, but through blood.”

How is HIV transmission prevented?

  • Use a condom (both male and female) when having penetrative sex, be it oral, vaginal or anal, with people who are infected or whose infection is unknown.

  • Know the risk of exposure from different sexual practices and the serological status of sexual partners.

  • Avoid sharing syringes, needles, and other injection supplies, such as instruments to pierce the skin for piercings or tattoos.

  • Periodically perform blood tests to detect sexually transmitted diseases.

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