Innovation

HIV/AIDS Cure Breakthrough: Drug Eradicates Deadly Virus

The very first HIV cure may soon enter the market. A pharmaceutical company believes it has created the drug that would completely eliminate the virus in the body. 

Existing medications could only control the activity of the virus and prevent its transmission to other people. American Gene Technologies (AGT) wants to expand the options for millions of people living with HIV. 

The said company has submitted a nearly 1,000-page drug application to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to sell a potential cure for HIV. AGT said the new AGT 103-T drug offers benefits that could eradicate the infection once and for all.

“We need to move these people from anti-retroviral control to permanent immunity and we think this project may be able to do that,” AGT CEO Jeff Galvin said.

The company hopes to get a response from FDA before the end of 2019. If approved, AGT would start clinical trials with the HIV cure by January, CBS Pittsburgh reported

However, it is expected to take several years for the company to secure final approval from federal officials to offer the drug to the public. 

Despite global efforts to provide easier access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, the infection remains as a major public health issue in many countries, including the U.S. The virus has already killed more than 32 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)

Estimates show that there were nearly 37.9 million people diagnosed with HIV in 2018. Among those patients, 770,000 died from HIV-related complications.

“HIV targets the immune system and weakens people's defense systems against infections and some types of cancer,” WHO said. “As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient.”

Over the past year, the number of people at risk of contracting the virus expanded. WHO said HIV now spreads among men with same sex partners, people who inject drugs, transgender people, those in prisons and other closed settings and babies of pregnant patients. 

HIV can be transmitted through exposure to body fluids from infected people, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. However, WHO noted kissing and sharing personal objects, food or water will not lead to infection. 

HIV A wheelchair for HIV patients is placed in the counselling room at the HIV integrated care unit of Cipto Mangunkusumo government hospital in Jakarta on November 30, 2012 as Indonesia battles HIV/AIDS. Study predicts that the U.S. could cut HIV infections by nearly 70 percent in 2030 with the current prevention, care and treatment goals. Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

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