• Question: is their any work under way to find a cure for AIDS that will actually cure it once and for all

    Asked by Fintan boyle to Roisin, Karen on 4 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Karen

      Karen answered on 4 Nov 2016:

      There is a lot of research ongoing into finding a cure for HIV infection. It is difficult to say whether it will ultimately successful in completely curing the infection. HIV is a retrovirus which means that not only does it infect you cells (CD4 T cells, which are a subset of lymphocytes which are the white blood cells that fight viral infection) it inserts itself into the genetic material of the cell. Therefore when the cell divides it creates a new cell also infected with HIV. Treatment is available now that makes that HIV virus undetectable in the blood of an infected individual and most people in the western world with HIV will live a full and normal life. However treatment is expensive (due to high costs charged by pharmaceutical companies) and people in developing countries, have not got access to it. Therefore entire generations are being eradicated in some African countries by a disease that essentially is treatable if not yet entirely curable.

    • Photo: Roisin Jones

      Roisin Jones answered on 5 Nov 2016:

      Hi Fintan,

      Unfortunately this isn’t really my area of expertise, I know very little about HIV! I do work in the same lab as people who work in the field, and I asked them, and they essentially said exactly what Karen has already written: there is tons of research ongoing to try and cure HIV, but it’s very difficult because of the nature of the virus, which is constantly mutating, however, there are now very effective treatments available (if you have the money: again, as Karen said, treatment is expensive), so HIV is no longer the death sentence it was 20-30 years ago: it’s now a chronic, but usually treatable illness.