Breakthrough in HIV Medications: Two Australian Men and One In Rockford 'Cured'

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By Afza Fathima | July 21, 2014 3:44 PM EST

Lance Dauengaugh, who was tested HIV positive in 1997, has turned to a healthy lifestyle and avoids drinking and smoking and takes his medicine regularly. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy was introduced in the same year. In July, World Health Organization has start encouraging all gay men to take antiretroviral medications as a precaution of HIV positive.

Health professionals and activists criticise the medicine saying it is unaffordable and that minor dosage problems can compromise on the effectiveness of the drug. They also suggested that since the medications are there as an alternative, they'd engage in unprotected sex. 

The suggestion by WHO might not erase stigma of HIV, transmitted either by unprotected sex or intravenous drug use. Dauenbaugh suggests he's been lucky as his medications are working. 

Shelton Kay, director of Crusader Community Health's HIV program said that living with HIV is equivalent to living with diabetes or hypertension, in which proper monitoring and care can help living a normal life.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that though there is such progress against the disease, in the United States every single year, an approximate 50,000 new HIV infections are detected, out of which 63% of those affected are gay men engaging in sexual activity. In the entire world, 38 million people worldwide are affected by it. 

Dauenbaugh's partner Todd Flied, to passed away due to complications from AIDS. He lived with it for 27 years and was confined to a wheelchair and was paralyzed at the young age of 20. His weight took a major hit as he weighed 160 pounds when he was a little healthy, but when he died was 70.

Illinois Department of Public Health's Web site said that before the use of antiretrovirals, in 1996, in Winnebago County, 43 reported cases and 28 reported deaths were reported and after the use of the medications, 37 cases and only 10 deaths were reported.

Dauenbaugh said, "You can't contract HIV ffrom shaking hands or hugging or kiss on the cheek. But fear of infection causes those living with HIV to be treated like lepers. Sometimes it's easier to remain silent and avoid scorn. Few people living with HIV are willing to share their stories. I thank the Lord for all the people that I've had in my life. You've got to be thankful. I don't know how much time the Lord's given me, but whatever it is, I'm thankful."

In Australia, two men were "cleared" of HIV after receiving bone marrow transplants to cure cancer. On July 19, a team of Sydney doctors announced that no signs of HIV were found in the men. Earlier, only man has been said to be cured of HIV, Timothy Ray Brown, after receiving a bone marrow transplant.

David Cooper, leading HIV specialist at Sydney's St. Vincent Hospital and direcotor of Kirby Institute, noted, "One of the Sydney patients received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with one of two possible copies of the protective gene mutation while the other patient received one from a donor with no copies of it. We're so pleased that both patients are doing reasonably well,'' said Professor Cooper, who also directs the University of NSW's Kirby Institute.  

In Australia, currently, there are about 26,800 people living with HIV. 

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