HIV is probably the most dreaded disease after cancer. Long since believed to be incurable, this disease works in a very unique way. When one gets infected by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the person get AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) which is a disease state, literally meaning a state of decreased immunity. Once someone gets infected by HIV i.e. after it enters their body, mainly the blood stream, it gets into their immune cells (the army of our body which fights infections) and multiplies inside it, thus rendering them helpless in fighting infections. Normally, whenever some bacteria, virus or anything else gets inside our body, these cells fight against them and protect us from infections. But after being infected by the HIV virus, these cells can’t fight and our immunity goes down. We become more susceptible to other infections. Thus AIDS does not kill, it lets other organisms kill. But we may have hope after all. The medical community has come across a few intriguing cases which provide a faint possibility that this dreadful disease may have a cure after all.
A French teenager who was infected with HIV at birth has lived in good health an astonishing 12 years since she last took antiretroviral drugs, researchers say. The case the longest-known example of a pediatric HIV patient living without ill effect after discontinuing treatment adds to the overwhelming body of knowledge supporting the benefits of early treatment. It will help researchers understand why it is possible for some patients with HIV to go into remission even after ceasing treatment.
Scientists described the case of the unidentified girl, who is now 18 years old, at the annual meeting of the International AIDS Society in Vancouver, Canada. She joins a select group of patients with HIV, such as the ‘Mississippi baby’ and the ‘VISCONTI cohort’ of 20 patients, who were treated early on in their infections and then discontinued treatment without immediate ill effects. These patients however are a very rare exception to the rule, majority of patients with HIV who stop treatment experience a rebound in virus levels that, if left untreated, can harm their health.
Its an intriguing case with a very unique and unusual outcome, says physician and virologist Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins Childrens Center in Baltimore, Maryland, who first reported on the Mississippi baby in 2013. We have had many kids who are treated for years, then go off treatment and rebound, so the global message is still that kids should stay on treatment.
Millions of dollars are being spent to discover medicine for curbing this menace of HIV but a French girl has offered a ray of hope. Her case has opened a window of research based on in built natural remedy. The medical community may have called the case as a very rare exception to the rule but the fact is that it leads us to believe in natural remedy or inbuilt curing factors. However, cautionary measures have been advised by doctors and researchers before taking a final call. They do believe this is not a cure but a state of remission and that they, as of now, have no exact knowledge of how it happens.
In case of the French Girl who remains healthy and has fared better to date than the Mississippi baby and most other patients with HIV, the doctors and researchers working in the HIV field believe that there might be characteristics that can be used to predict in advance which patients will fare well if their treatment is discontinued. In the words of Nature Journal quote, It is being augmented that the patients showing control on H virus of dreadful diseases like that of The French girl and the other VISCONTI patients share particular variants of immune genes that actually seem to predispose them to particularly severe early HIV infections and researchers aren’t sure how this might be connected to them becoming post-treatment controllers; it may cause their infections to be noticed earlier and thus be treated earlier, than in other patients. That sets them apart from the elite controllers who in contrast seem to have genetic traits associated with greater ability to control the infection.
It is not uncommon for the patients who are responding well to the treatment to shower their doctors with gifts in order to express their gratitude. This practice has been observed especially in our valley since decades. The fact that the doctors used to advise ailing patients to visit serene places only reconfirms the strength of inbuilt-healing touch. Many of our Bollywood movies also share a similar plot wherein a patient is advised to visit places like Shimla or Kashmir to get a change of air and the patient miraculously recovers.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.