Approaches in HIV Treatment Briefly Explained

Scientists have yet to find a cure for HIV and AIDS but there’s good news, too! There are several treatment methods used in controlling the effects of the human immunodeficiency virus, such as monotherapy and combination therapy; the likes of Atripla are useful in this regard. People infected with the virus can then live relatively healthy and long lives.  

Prompt and Proper Treatment Is a Must

Before we discuss the approaches in HIV treatment, we want to point out the importance of seeking prompt and proper treatment after your diagnosis. Your doctor will recommend a personalized treatment plan geared toward the management of your HIV.

When in place and followed to the letter, your plan will achieve two objectives:

  • Prevent the virus from attacking and damaging your immune system; and
  • Reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to your sexual partners

Take note that the operative term here is “reduce the risk” so precautions must still be made to prevent actual transmission. Ask your doctor about these precautions, which may include the use of condoms.  

Functional and Sterilizing Cures

Scientists are consistently on the lookout for possible cures for the scourge of the 20th century so there’s always hope. Currently, there are two types of cures being explored, namely:  

  • Functional cures are designed to suppress the quantity of the virus in the body such that it will not be detected by tests or it will not cause the characteristic symptoms. There’s still debate about whether current antiretroviral treatments are functional cures or not.  There are a few cases of patients being temporarily cured of the infection, such as the so-called Mississippi Baby; their infections re-emerged afterwards.  
  • Sterilizing cures are intended to remove all traces of the virus from the body such that even hidden reservoirs cannot harbor it anymore.  Timothy Brown, the so-called Berlin Patient, is the only documented case of the possibility of an effective sterilizing cure.

But his treatment isn’t recommended for others for several reasons. He received a bone marrow transplant with his donor being a person with a documented natural genetic resistance against the virus. He was cured of his HIV but scientists have yet to understand why but his case has given scientists more ideas about a possible cure.  

The treatment plan will also depend on the type of HIV in an affected person.  There are two known major types – HIV-1 and HIV-2 – with each virus being distinct from the other.

HIV-1 is the most common with around 95% infection rate due to its highly infectious quality.  HIV-2 is fairly uncommon with its highest concentration in West Africa, as well as being less infectious and aggressive (i.e., slower progression).  Tests usually determine which one is present in a potential patient’s system.  

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