HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. If not treated, HIV can lead to AIDS. In 2019, Blacks were found to be 8.1 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV.
There are two ways that HIV patients’ bodies can keep the virus under control after they stop antiretroviral therapy, a new study led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, and Tae-Wook Chun, chief of its HIV Immunovirology Section shows.
The findings could point to ways to help people with HIV keep the virus in remission without having to keep taking medications that can have long-term side effects, according to researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Side effects of HIV medications include:
- Feeling queasy
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in your feet or hands
- Dry mouth
The following long-term side effects may also occur as a result of HIV medication:
- Fat redistribution
- Higher cholesterol or triglyceride levels
- High blood sugar
- Liver damage
- Loss of bone density
- Weight gain
- Mitochondria problems
- A buildup of a cellular waste product (lactic acidosis)
What the study shows
It included two adults with HIV who began antiretroviral therapy (ART) soon after being infected with the virus. They continued treatment for more than six years and successfully suppressed the virus.
They then joined a clinical trial and stopped taking ART under medical supervision. One patient was followed for four years and the other for more than five, with assessments every two to three weeks.
Researchers were looking for the timing and size of viral rebounds in each — that is, times when levels of HIV in their blood became detectable.
In one patient, viral suppression lasted nearly three and a half years, with occasional rebounds in virus counts. The other patient had nearly completed HIV suppression for close to four years, but then had a big surge when he was infected with a different