HIV/AIDS: Where We Stand Today

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SPRINGFIELD — After a London man was declared to be in remission from HIV, the disease isn’t facing a cure just yet. 

A man in London is said to be the second person in history who could be cured of the HIV virus.  

The man has reportedly been in remission for 18 months, and has not had to take his HIV medications.

The last time a person was said to be in remission from HIV was in 2008, when a man in Berlin had a similar situation. 

Both cases were very unique circumstances, as they both suffered from cancer and put into remission by bone marrow transplants. 

While there is reason for optimism, Medical Director of the Aids Project of the Ozarks, Dr. Stephen Adams, says bone marrow transplants are extremely risky. 

“The process to be prepared for a bone marrow transplant is chemotherapy, plus or minus radiation so that we can destroy all of your own native bone marrow. When we destroy your bone marrow that means you have zero immune system,” says Dr. Adams.

Dr. Adams says a lot of people die from those complications, as only about 1/3rd of people survive longer than 5 years after the procedures. 

Because of that, Adams says this isn’t something that spells the end of HIV. 

“It’s a little tiny glimmer of hope,” he says. 

It gives researchers something to work with though.

APO Executive Director Lynne Meyerkord says in the meantime, the safest way and most effective way to get treatment is through medication. 

“That’s medicine that a person can expect to be on the rest of their lives to keep the virus suppressed. If you look over the years, the medication regimines used to be 16 pills a day,” Meyerkord says. 

But today, for people who are HIV positive like Natasha Schill, that number is much smaller.

Like most people who are HIV positive, she just takes one pill a day. 

Schill works at APO to help others navigate through life with HIV. She knows another case of remission isn’t cure, but it gives her hope. 

“To have new data to work with is huge on leading us towards either remissions as they’re calling it right now, or potentially a cure,” Schill says. 

There are medications right now that can suppress the disease for carriers, and for those who don’t have HIV — a new medication called Truvada reduces chances of getting it by about 96%.

Medications are still the safest way to go for treatment and prevention.

APO says in Southwest Missouri there are just under 1,000 people in the who are HIV postive, and around 300 could be positive but are undiagnosed.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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