Argentina: Second person known to be naturally cured of HIV raises hopes for millions

New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 15, 2021, 11:30 PM IST
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A patient uses an HIV self testing kit in a booth at a Zimplats Mine clinic near Ngezi recreational park Photograph:(AFP)

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The discovery was announced by a group of Harvard-based scientists at an international meeting for HIV experts

The second person ever to naturally cure their HIV has been identified in Argentina, raising hopes for a future cure.

The discovery was announced by a group of Harvard-based scientists at an international meeting for HIV experts.

The Argentinian woman, who comes from the city of Esperanza, was found to have zero-disease causing or so-called intact virus.

Loreen Willenburg, 67, San Francisco, was the first person to have 'intact' virus.

Usually, when a person gets HIV, the virus attaches itself to their immune cell's DNA and it reproduces from there. But in this case, the virus seems to have settled into a "gene desert." It cannot replicate within the body or cause any harm.

Currently, anti-viral drugs ensure that the immune systems of HIV-positive patients are healthy to reduce the risk of the disease that is advancing but they are expensive.

The researchers can benefit from additional funding to find cheaper cures.

While countries around the world have spent billions fighting the pandemic, it has fuelled several medical innovations including genetic vaccines.

Earlier, shots used a weakened or a deadly virus to develop immunity but these vaccines take a small part of the genetic information of the virus and use the cells of the body to spark an immune response.

Due to this, scientists can design a cure within days instead of months of years.

Experts believe this breakthrough could be replicated to eliminate chronic infectious or cancerous cells.

The pandemic also led to the rise of devices that can measure a person's temperature, heart rate and oxygen levels.

Experts are of the view that the same technology can be used to not just detect symptoms of the COVID-19 but also poisoning outbreaks and seasonal flu episodes.

Last year, scientists raised the benefits of bio-printing, that is, printing human tissues to test potential treatments for coronavirus.

A team in America printed miniature lungs and colons to test drugs. The same technology can potentially be used to test treatments for cancer and other diseases.

The pandemic has taught the world the value of good health. Perhaps, if medical science gets more financial assistance, the scientists of the world may end up defeating more than one disease.