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Health

UK Scientists Say They're on the Verge of Curing HIV

British scientists may have discovered a cure for HIV.

Researchers told the UK’s Sunday Times this week that a 44-year-old HIV-positive social worker from London has been found to have no trace of HIV in his cells following an experimental treatment. He is one of 50 patients undergoing the trial.

The treatment is designed to destroy HIV in every part of the body, including dormant cells, according to the report. Scientists said they won’t know for several more months whether the disease was permanently, completely removed from his body.

Read More: How a Sex Worker Led This Doctor to Groundbreaking HIV Discovery

Eradicating HIV and AIDS is one of the most pressing global health goals of our time, and one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals aims to  achieve this by 2030. While treatments have improved greatly since the disease emerged in the early 1980s, there is still no cure.

“It would be great if a cure has happened,” the patient, whose identity was not made public, told the Times. “It would be a massive achievement if, after all these years, something is found to cure people of this disease. The fact that I was a part of that would be incredible.”

Traditional treatments for HIV, known as antiretroviral drugs, suppress the body from reproducing the infected cells, but don’t eliminate them. This new treatment is designed to eliminate them, according to the report.

Read More: The Deadly, Rapid Rise of HIV

Researchers from the UK’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, and King’s College London, designed a therapy that activates the infected T-cells and allows them to reproduce to that “killer cells” can go find them and eliminate them from the body.

“This therapy is specifically designed to clear the body of all HIV viruses, including dormant ones,” Sarah Fidler, one of the researchers, told the paper.

Fidler said the trials will continue for five more years. Currently, some 37 million people around the world are infected with HIV. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 1981, 78 million people have contracted the disease and 35 million have died from AIDS-related causes.