HIV “Functional Cure” Found in Thai Red Cross Trial

92% of people who commence antiretroviral drug treatment witin two weeks of infection receive "functional cure" Thai Red Cross study finds.

A human HIV trial conducted as part of a Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS) research project has produced promising results for those who commence a course of antiretroviral drugs within two weeks of being infected by the HIV virus.

The study, part of a “search 0101” research project by the Thai Red Cross, commenced in 2009 and involved 96 people.

Lead researcher on the Thai Red Cross project, Dr Jintanat Ananworanich, said antiretroviral drugs were given to 26 people who had been infected with the virus for no more than two weeks. Blood tests taken after two weeks of treatment revealed that the white blood cells of 24 people, or 92 per cent of participants, contained no HIV virus.

Describing the findings as a “functional cure”, Dr Jintanat said the findings did not mean the participants were free of the HIV virus in their body, simply that the virus had been “reduced to such a low level that it is keep under control by the body’s natural defences without the need for ongoing treatment”.

Dr Jintanat said only 53 per cent of Thai Red Cross trial participants who received antiretroviral drugs after being infected with the HIV virus for more than two achieved the same “functional cure”.

According to Dr Jintanat the Thai Red Cross researchers will continue monitoring the early-diagnosed group of study participants to see if the virus remains “controlled” for five years after the antiretroviral drug regime has ceased.

If the HIV virus remains controlled and viral load levels do not increase it means those who receive early treatment after being infected with HIV will be able to lead normal lives without the inconvenience or cost of taking antiretroviral drugs Dr Jintanat said.

No details of which antiretroviral drugs used in the study were released.

Source: Bangkok Post: Red Cross hails HIV trial result

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Thai Red Cross Society • human HIV trial • antiretroviral drugs • HIV virus • HIV infection • HIV transmission • HIV in Thailand
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John Le Fevre

Editor at
John Le Fevre is an Australian national with more than 30 years' experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and copy editor. He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia and previously held senior editorial staff positions with various Southeast Asia English language publications and international news agencies. He has covered major world events including the 1991 pillage riots in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the 2009 Songkran riots in Bangkok, and the 2010 ant-government Bangkok protests. In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

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