Written by Nóra Lehotai.
December 1 is World AIDS Day. This day is the first ever global health day, remembered since 1988. This year’s motto by the WHO is “End inequalities. End AIDS.”
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. Two species of lentiviruses, belonging to the retrovirus virus family, infect humans, and with time, if left untreated, can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. HIV infection is one of the major global health issues, with an estimate of 37.7 million people living with it. It is also a disproportionately distributing infection as more than two thirds of the infections are located in the African continent. There is no antiviral drug available to cure HIV infection.
“The reason why we cannot cure HIV infection is a special enzyme, called integrase. This integrates the viral DNA into our chromosomes where it lies silent thus, we are not able to kill the infected cells.”-explained Prof. Niklas Arnberg, virologist at Umeå University, MIMS Senior PI and Chairman of the Virus and Pandemic Foundation (Pandemifonden) in the recent interview with him in the frame of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, 18-24 November 2021.
The first stage of infection is acute HIV infection. The second stage is chronic HIV infection. People receiving antiretroviral therapy, may never enter the third and last stage, which is AIDS. In this phase, the immune system is severely impaired, prone to infections and cancers.
HIV is transmitted via direct contact with body fluids (blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid, breast milk).
The challenge before us is to deploy — for everyone who needs them — the innovative strategies for HIV prevention and treatment that have resulted from the unprecedented basic scientific and clinical advances made over the past four decades. ... The goal of our historic four-decade-long journey to end the global HIV epidemic, however, will be reached only when we have a safe and effective vaccine and have addressed the remaining implementation challenges.-written by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. H. Clifford Lane in the article "Four Decades of HIV/AIDS — Much Accomplished, Much to Do", 2020, The New England Journal of Medicine.
Members of MIMS are working hard to raise awareness about the importance of antivirals and the lack of these drugs. Virologists work tirelessly to find new drugs to develop vaccines and drugs to prevent and/or treat viral infections.
Original publication: Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. and H. Clifford Lane, M.D.Four Decades of HIV/AIDS — Much Accomplished, Much to Do (2020) N Engl J Med 2020; 383:1-4. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1916753
Available here: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1916753
WHO World AIDS Day site: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-aids-day/world-aids-day-2021
WHO HIV-AIDS information site: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
You can read the interview with Niklas Arnberg in the frame of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week here: https://www.mims.umu.se/news-events/2063-antivirals-and-the-lack-of-them-interview-with-niklas-arnberg-virologist.html
Pictures by WHO World AIDS Day 2021 campaign.