On the eve of the AIDS 2012 conference, ABC Radio National’s drive presenter Waleed Ali chatted with Burnet researcher and infectious diseases physician, Dr Edwina Wright about finding a cure for HIV.
Want to listen to the interview? (download the MP3 at right).
Excerpt of the interview…
“We are on the road to understanding what it will take to find a cure and be able to offer a cure to HIV positive people.
“At the Alfred (hospital), Professor Sharon Lewin is running a trial along with some other colleagues looking at giving HIV positive patients who are very well, good immune systems and very well virologically, giving them medication which could perhaps purge the small number of cells which are reservoirs of HIV – a very quite ‘sleeper’ type cell.
“In this study we are looking at giving them this medication which is licensed for other purposes which would purge that reservoir of cells and then the antiretroviral treatment in their system would kill the virus straight off.
“So we have inroads happening and other researchers around the world are looking at similar ways in to look at the concept of cure. It is early days yet conceptually it is there.
“The vast majority of people with HIV in Australia are on lifelong therapy and treatment.
“It is likely that the chronic low grade level of HIV in their system creates an inflammatory environment which can drive other illnesses as well, like hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, so if you were to really switch off that virus in those people potentially they could theoretically live longer.”
Edwina Wright, is an infectious diseases physician at The Alfred, head of the Wright Group at Burnet and the President of Australian Society of HIV Medicine.