It seems like at least once a year we have to go down the list and debunk the “new cures and treatments for #HIV”. Yes, we understand that people have been waiting over 40 years for a cure or vaccine but the issue of spreading fake news about these alleged treatments is getting out of hand. At GMJ we prefer discussing facts over fear, this also means taking the time to write about why some reports hurt our community, more than help it.

African Cure for HIV/AIDS: False

At the end of year 2018, it was reported that Walter Magaya, a self-proclaimed Zimbabwean prophet and doctor, had found a cure for HIV/AIDS – and that his cure is scientifically proven. Magaya, from the Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries, told his congregation on Sunday that the cure can be found by mixing two plants, one called Aguma which is found in Zimbabwe and another plant which is found in Mozambique, Zimbabwe’s Pindula News reported.

“The government is free to summon our own research board and test this medicine for themselves. As for me, I’ve my own testimonies but people will listen to a minister rather than a mere prophet” Magaya stated.

However, there has been no independent confirmation from any reputable medical establishment that Magaya’s concoction is, in fact, a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Stem Cell HIV “Cure”: True…kinda

So far, possibly, three men who were HIV positive are reported to be “effectively cured”, or in “sustained remission” of the virus due to stem cell treatments. The published case report of the London patient comes more than 10 years after the first case, known as the “Berlin patient.” Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV. The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

Another group of researchers said that a third patient also may have cleared an HIV infection. Evidence of a “Düsseldorf patient” was presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, alongside the report on the London patient. This third case study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor in University College London’s Division of Infection and Immunity.

Gupta added that the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. He and his colleagues will continue to monitor the man’s condition, as it is still too early to say that he has been cured of HIV.

New type of PrEP dosing: True

There have been no new HIV infections in the 1628 people taking part in a demonstration study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in France. Over half of participants chose to use on-demand dosing for PrEP, with the rest opting for daily dosing, but both have been equally effective, Jean-Michel Molina of the University of Paris Diderot told a press conference at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam.

On-demand dosing (sometimes referred to as ‘event-driven’ or ‘event-based’ dosing) involves taking a double dose of PrEP (two pills) from 2-24 hours before anticipated sex, and then, if sex happens, additional pills 24 hours and 48 hours after the double dose. In the event of sex on several days in a row, one pill should be taken each day until 48 hours after the last sexual intercourse.

Monthly HIV medication injections instead of pills: True

This one is true, but still not in trials and not yet available to the public. According to AIDSMAP.COM

A combination of two long-acting injectable anti-HIV drugs taken once monthly had a very low rate of treatment failure and a favourable safety profile, according to results from two phase III trials presented yesterday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2019) in Seattle.

Dual injections of cabotegravir, an experimental integrase inhibitor, and the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) rilpivirine, currently available as a pill (Edurant), maintained viral suppression among treatment-experienced people switching from a standard oral regimen and among previously untreated people after a short three-drug induction period.

What’s more, study participants expressed a high level of satisfaction with monthly injections compared with daily pills, and nearly all said they would prefer to use the injectable method, reported Dr Susan Swindells of the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Dr Chloe Orkin of Queen Mary University of London.

HIV Treatment Implant: True

Just like with the once a month injections, this implant is still in the trial phase but results are looking positive.

Researchers from the UNC School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study today in Nature Communications that reports a potentially promising remedy for this problem. The researchers developed an ultra long-acting, injectable, and removable formulation of an antiretroviral medication called dolutegravir, and they tested the formulation’s effectiveness in animal models.

The injectable formulation includes the anti-HIV drug, a polymer, and a solvent. The three-component liquid solidifies into an implant once injected under the skin. As the polymer slowly degrades, the drug is released.

“Our study found that the formulation delivered the drug effectively, and the implants were well tolerated with little or no sign of toxicity, for five months,” said Martina Kovarova, Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the study, assistant professor of infectious diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill, and a member of the UNC Center for AIDS Research. 

Be careful about what you believe:

The internet is filled with stories about cures and treatments for HIV but as a reader you must be savvy and aware. You can’t just jump on the next new thing and believe it is fact, or worse, reTweet it to your followers or plaster it on Facebook. This not only gives those living with HIV false hope but it also down plays the severity of this illness and what those living with it must face daily. This is the very definition of fake news.

As time goes on, many of the above treatments should be available to the general public, but we are not there yet. If you are living with HIV always remember to discuss possible new treatments with your doctor.

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