The HIV virus that causes the much reviled AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is still one of the most serious diseases the world is facing today. There are approximately 34 million of people currently living with HIV and nearly 30 million people have died from it since 1981 when the first cases were reported.
Most of the cases reported affected people living in low and middle income countries where proper medical resource and knowledge to treat the disease properly is inadequate or close to non-existence.
Although the number of people newly infected with HIV as well as AIDS related death has declined in recent years and treatment to people with HIV has significantly improved thanks to global efforts from WHO and other NGO, there is still no cure for the disease.
However, lately there has been encouraging stories that sometimes borderline miraculous where seem that the cure of HIV is discovered. Although these stories are more than the exception rather than the rules, it’s a promising sign nonetheless.
One of the most recent one was a Mississippi baby that has been identified to carry the HIV virus through its mother, has had its virus somewhat inactivated through a cocktail of drugs given right after the baby is born. The scientists however, have not been able to repeat the procedures with the same result precluding them from taking any scientific conclusion as other babies treated the same way responds very differently.
Another one is a story about a 52 years old Kenyan prostitute from Majengo who has demonstrated a miraculous resistance to HIV virus. In places where having AIDS no longer raised a grave concern, Agatha is part of around 50 prostitute that has been discovered to have a huge number of white blood cells that kill off HIV infected cells before it could cause any damage.
The information obtained from these women is being studies at Nairobi University faculty of Medicine as well as University of Oxford and may prove to be the Holy Grail in eradicating the disease, however, it’s going to be a little while before the result can actually be transformed into something readily available to the public, even with the large funding from Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) which listed Bill Gates as one of its biggest contributor.
The Berlin Patient
The first person ever to have been reportedly cured of HIV is Timothy Ray Brown from San Francisco or more famously known as the Berlin Patient which refers to the place he was treated for his infection. The 46 years old case was published in New England Journal of Medicine in 2009.
Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and later developed leukemia that requires him to have a blood stem cell transplant preformed on him. It turns out that the donor has a rare gene mutation disease that provides natural resistance to HIV which was transferred to Brown. This gene mutation apparently happens to about 1 percent of the northern European population. Subsequent tests involving 12 patients with HIV and cancer however filed to yield similar result.
The Bees’ Venom
The latest breakthrough comes from The Washington University in St Luis, USA. The researcher there lead by Joshua L Hood MD, Phd have discovered that toxin found in bee venom can destroy HIV virus while leaving surrounding cells undamaged.
Bees’ products have been known to play a big role in curing diseases by the ancient Egypt and Chinese. The practice which called Apitherapy is mostly utilizes the honey bee. However, Phillip Terc in 1998 published a report on connection between bee stings and rheumatism and more recently by a Vermont beekeeper, Charles Mraz.
Using bees’ venom on a molecular level has never been attempted before and the WU breakthrough means that when it fully developed, people will at least have a preventive measure against HIV to stop the initial infection.
Will any of the above be the ultimate cure for HIV/AIDS remains unanswered for at least the next couple of years. In the meantime standard precaution applies and you should treat any symptoms seriously.