This year, World AIDS Day marks a much closer step towards a cure for AIDS. After the inaugural HIV Cure Summit led by UC San Francisco scientists, three main strategies were highlighted in healthcare industry news that could eradicate the virus responsible for 40 million deaths around the world.
Leaders at the HIV Cure Summit were adamant about having a solution soon. amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost closed the event by saying,
“I hope it’s as obvious to all of you, as it is to us at amfAR, why we chose UCSF. We’re an organization in a hurry, and fast is as slow as we’re prepared to go.”
As the San Jose Mercury News puts it, “Traditional anti-viral drugs act like a lawn mower, keeping weeds manicured and under control. But once the gardener leaves, weeds resurge — it doesn’t matter how often you mow, the weeds will persist.” So, three new strategies have been pinpointed and currently being tested:
- Gene therapy uses an HIV-infected person’s cells to “knock out” or disable the CCR5 gene.
- Vaccination strengthens a patient’s immune system to prevent the virus from spreading.
- “Shock and kill” involves the use of a “shock” drug to hunt down and activate latent HIV, killing it as it shows up.
Basically, “Shock and kill” is a practical strategy that has been likened to adding fertilizer to trigger growth, facilitating an easier opportunity to wipe everything out, “roots and all”.
For more clarification about “shock and kill” healthcare news, please watch UC San Francisco’s video:
Here are some of the most inspiring quotes from the #HIVCureSummit:
“I’m a big believer that with the appropriate commitment, talent and resources we will find a cure.”
– amfAR Chairman of the Board Kenneth Cole introduces guests to the #HIVCureSummit 2015.
“We are in the forefront of the crucial final chapter of the HIV epidemic.”
– Dr. Paul Volberding, a UCSF professor of medicine who treated some of the epidemic’s first victims in the early 1980s.
“We are light years ahead of where we were in the 1980s, when it was so terrifying. People were dying left and right. Now we understand what is left to do. And how to get there.”
– Frank Brooks, long-term AIDS survivor
“There has never been a more optimistic time in the world of HIV/AIDS research. The case of the Berlin Patient, first reported in 2008, was a watershed moment and a proof of principle that a cure was possible. This and other breakthroughs over the last several years have brought the scientific community a new understanding of the challenges that must be overcome to get to a cure. And there is growing confidence that, with the right investments, these challenges can be overcome.
This momentum, coupled with the availability of new and emerging technologies, has led us to believe that now is the time to mount an all-out effort to find a cure that will herald the beginning of the end of HIV/AIDS.”