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New study makes inroads with HIV treatment

Category: HIV

HIV and AIDS are two well-known sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that affect millions of people every year. Scientists are working on better ways to treat and potentially cure the diseases, but for now, STD testing and prevention techniques are the best recommendation doctors can make. New research from Duke University Medical Center may help further this fight in the future.

Cell Press published the study's results earlier this year, showing that certain blood testing with natural virus-fighting antibodies in a healthy human body could be engineered into vaccines. By creating a serum that triggers a specific immune response in an HIV-1 patient, scientists tried to slow or halt the progress of the disease. They found that some variations of the vaccine could identify cells infected with HIV and attach to those structures, reducing the number of affected cells in the body, potentially equating an improvement in a patient.

"This is the first comprehensive study of the repertoire of antibodies that were induced by an HIV vaccine and were associated with decreased transmission of HIV," study author Barton Haynes said of the outcome. "Ultimately, the motivation of the study is to understand how that vaccine works in order to develop ways to make it better."

Blood tests that identify the concentration of HIV-infected cells could help doctors monitor these reactions if the vaccine becomes available to those with the disease. Researchers involved in the study are only hopeful at this stage that their findings will guide future initiatives to fight the illness.

Rising case count
The prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the American landscape is on the rise, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most recent surveillance supplemental report showed. AIDS.gov, backed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stated that HIV is becoming easier to catch in those already suffering from other STDs, making blood testing more important for those in high-risk groups than for others in the general population. The presence of other diseases should prompt patients to seek further testing for HIV, as catching the illness early can promote better care and quality of life. People living in metropolitan areas, young people and those living alternative lifestyles are most in danger of contracting these viruses, but with access to medical care sometimes limited for people in these groups, finding more effective treatments could be of great help.

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