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Research Presented At AIDS 2012 Conference Renews Hope Of Cure For AIDS

Two studies presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) and one published Wednesday in the British journal Nature “have given researchers renewed hope that a cure for AIDS may be possible,” the Washington Post reports. “None of the strategies are easy, proved or ready for prime time,” but “all involve procedures or drugs that are already in use and are able to be deployed widely if further research bears out the early findings,” the newspaper writes (Brown/Botelho, 7/26). “One study focused on a group of 12 patients in France who began treatment on antiretroviral drugs within 10 weeks of becoming infected with human immunodeficiency virus, but then stopped the therapy” after an average of three years of treatment, Agence France-Presse writes (Sheridan/Santini, 7/26). According to a conference press release, the patients “have shown no signs of a resurgence of their HIV infection” six years after stopping therapy (7/26). “The work is further evidence that people should be given drugs as soon as possible,” the Guardian adds (Boseley, 7/26).

In a second study, “Boston researchers reported Thursday that the virus was quashed beyond detection in two HIV-infected patients who underwent bone marrow transplants while taking powerful drug cocktails,” the Boston Globe writes (Shen, 7/26). “The researchers are cautious in declaring the two men cured, but more than two years after receiving bone marrow transplants, HIV can’t be detected anywhere in their bodies,” NBC News’ “Today Health” notes (Fox, 7/26). “A third study on how a cancer drug helped purge HIV from the cells of patients was described by lead researcher David Margolis of the University of North Carolina,” AFP writes, adding, “Researchers used the chemotherapy drug vorinostat to revive and so unmask latent HIV in the CD4+ T cells of eight trial patients who were also taking antiretroviral drugs to stop the virus from multiplying” (7/26). In related news, an expanded analysis of HPTN 052 study data presented at the conference on Thursday “show[s] additional benefits of early antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV clinical outcomes,” a study press release (.pdf) states, adding the results “demonstrated that early versus delayed ART showed a trend toward delaying the time to both AIDS and non-AIDS primary events and significantly delayed the time to AIDS events, death and tuberculosis” (7/26).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.