Thursday 23 March 2023

Professor Sharon Lewin at Arab Health

Single-shot cure for everyone with HIV ‘remains a long way off’

DUBAI, February 1, 2023

A single-shot cure for everyone with HIV remains a long way off, said Professor Sharon Lewin, Director, Doherty Institute, Melbourne, Australia and President of the International AIDS Society (IAS).
“While we are unsure when a cure will be available, we expect that the first approach to achieve HIV remission will be with combination immune therapy and an ex vivo cure with gene or cellular therapy. Ultimately, an in vivo cure is what we are after,” she said addressing the audience at the Healthcare Transformation Talks at Arab Health 2023, which runs until February 2.
“Although a cure for HIV is extremely rare, it is indeed possible. With Single Cell Technologies transforming our understanding of HIV latency (the clinically latent infection stage, also referred to as asymptomatic HIV infection), the current strategies for achieving an HIV cure include latency reversal, immunotherapy and gene therapy,” she explained.
38.4 million people living with HIV 
With 38.4 million people living with HIV and 1.5 million new infections in 2021, the HIV pandemic remains a major global problem. Although a 2022 UNAIDS report shows a 30% decline in infections in the decade since 2010, regions including the Middle East & North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia have seen infection rates are increasing due to limited access to prevention services and limited access to ART.
With 70% of people with HIV globally receiving effective ART in 2021, the advances in treatment modalities have been remarkable. Today, patients only take a single daily tablet, and last year, we saw the introduction of the first non-pill long-acting treatment where patients receive just six injections a year to stop the transmission of the virus. While the current landscape for HIV treatment is characterised by excellent daily treatment with ART and long-acting ART, in the future, long-acting treatment will involve broadly neutralising antibodies.
Professor Lewin concluded that whatever is being done scientifically to cure HIV must be scalable and accessible in the regions most affected by the virus.
Also, on the agenda at the Healthcare Transformation Talks, attendees heard insights on the power of precision medicine for population genome programmes, the future of the UAE’s healthcare, how technology can help protect clinicians from medication errors, the world’s first pig heart transplantation in human, and the re-imagination of women's health.-- TradeArabia News Service


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