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The first approved treatment for HIV was adopted in 1987. The drug, called AZT, became the first of over thirty medications that are currently approved to treat this virus. However, none of them were able to completely defeat the disease, and the best people can hope for when taking these drugs is prolonging their lives for a number of years.
The HIV infection is one of the most dreaded diseases that are currently plaguing the world. In some countries, the AIDS/HIV problem is so bad that the disease is considered an epidemic. Considering the fact that it is fatal, it is no wonder why many people start panicking when they hear about it. The HIV infection effectively strips the human body of its natural defenses, obliterating the immune system. As a result, a mere cold can cause a patient’s death. This incredible vulnerability is one of the most frightening aspects of this disease. Millions of dollars were invested to fight it, but scientists have managed to achieve only partial success in this endeavor.
In the case of HIV, even partially effective treatment is better than none. This is why even after many years of research, the labs that work on finding a cure for this disease are still some of the most financed in the world. Their current achievements deserve recognition, as the antiviral drugs used for treating HIV today are so effective that the patient can prevent the disease progressing to the AIDS stage with the right treatment plan. The main problem in this case is catching the HIV infection at an early stage. If treatment is started immediately, one of the most feared fatal diseases can be turned into a chronic condition.
Six types of antiretroviral drugs are used to fight HIV today. They effectively block the virus’s ability to replicate by interfering with some of its abilities. Entry inhibitors prevent the virus from attaching itself to the cells, while fusion inhibitors make it impossible for the virus to get inside the cell membrane. If they fail, reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors such as nucleoside RT inhibitors and non-nucleoside RT inhibitors will be used to prevent the HIV enzymes from converting HIV RNA into HIV DNA. Integrase and protease inhibitors prevent HIV enzymes from integrating their defective genetic material into the patient’s DNA.
There is no effective cure for the HIV infection yet, but the research in the area continues to bring positive results. Thousands of people today manage to live with this condition, preventing its progress to the fatal stage.
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