Are there any drugs to cure AIDS

Virus in the crosshairs - therapies against AIDS

Actually, one might think that any antiretroviral drug should be able on its own to keep the multiplication of HIV at a safe low level. In practice, however, this is only possible with a combination of preparations. The reason for this lies in the enormous versatility of the viruses: their genetic material is copied so "sloppily" during reproduction that the virus offspring always receive genetic material with individual spelling errors (so-called mutations). Most of these spelling mistakes have no effect, but every now and then Again a spelling mistake happens by chance, which makes the virus insensitive to a drug, if only treated with this drug, the mutated viruses can no longer stop and they multiply again unchecked.

However, the viruses hardly ever succeed in developing mutations against several drugs at the same time. This is why drug combinations remain effective in the long term. However, this only applies if the patients take their preparations consistently. However, this is not always the case, for example because patients fail to carry their tablets with them or because they become reluctant to experience the side effects (which may include nausea or diarrhea). However, if a patient's virus has become resistant to one of the drugs, it must be exchanged for another that is still effective. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that there are many different drugs against HIV and that companies are constantly developing new ones. But they have also done a lot to make therapy easier for patients: while older preparations have to be taken very punctually in larger quantities and several times a day, with newer preparations it is often sufficient to take a single tablet per day without strictly adhering to the intake time. Several newer drugs also cause fewer side effects in many patients than older ones.

Medical guidelines now recommend starting HIV therapy as soon as possible after diagnosis. Because this not only protects an HIV-positive person from getting into the AIDS stage of the disease, it also minimizes the infectiousness. At the latest when the number of T helper cells has fallen below 500,000 per milliliter, therapy should definitely be started. This was not always the case: In the past, the recommendation was only given to start treatment only when the first symptoms became noticeable or less than 350,000 T helper cells per milliliter were counted in the blood.

If the drugs work, the amount of virus in the blood (the so-called viral load) drops drastically, ideally below 50 viruses per milliliter (cubic centimeter) of blood. As the amount of virus decreases, the number of T helper cells quickly increases again in the first few months, so that the immune system returns to normal.