In what could be good news for people living with HIV and Aids, a virus being tested as a potential cancer treatment is showing promise for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to a study by Ottawa researchers.
Head of infectious diseases at Ottawa Hospital, Jonathan Angel, has reportedly been working with a virus called Maraba, which was developed by other researchers in Ottawa and his being used in clinical trials to treat cancer.
Angel and his colleagues theorized that because HIV-infected cells have abnormalities in common with cancer cells, the same virus could be used to destroy them. That proved to be true in laboratory tests on HIV-infected cells, though Angel said it could be a long time before trials could be carried out in HIV-positive patients.
Newer medications for HIV can render the virus nearly undetectable, but because it quickly proliferates if a patient stops taking the drugs, the search for a cure remains important, Angel said, in part for the sake of patients’ morale.
“Taking medications every day is a reminder you have a chronic infection,” Angel said.
“It can be psychologically very difficult. And (HIV) is also a disease that’s stigmatizing.”
The effectiveness of modern treatments actually makes research to find a cure somewhat more difficult, because a virus that’s been reduced to a very low level in the body is a more challenging target.
“Trying to find those bits of virus hidden in different tissues in very small amounts, it’s a major challenge,” Angel said.
The research finding was recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the results gave hope to the fight against HIV and Aids.
There are approximately 36,7 million people worldwide living with HIV and Aids, and of these, 2,1 million are children. And 1.0 million died of the disease in 2016.
Over 35 million people have died from Aids-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic, making it one of the worst scourges to afflict mankind.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with an estimated 25,6 million people living with HIV, with nearly 1 in every 25 adults (4.2%) living with the disease and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide. according to World Health Organisation statistics.