For Ricardo Vasconcelos, infectious disease specialist, the difficulty is to get people living with HIV tested and to face all the discrimination and serophobia that exist in the world and remain linked to treatment.
By Simone Lemos
Research published by the University of Oxford has shown that a variant of HIV, identified as BV, found in patients in the Netherlands, is more transmissible and harmful to health. One person dies every minute worldwide from HIV, according to UNAIDS (a United Nations program created in 1996, whose function is to create solutions and help nations in the fight against AIDS).
According to Ricardo Vasconcelos, infectious disease specialist at Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, USP, this is because “HIV has mutated in its original genetic material and these mutations, which are more than 300, have in somehow altered the proteins the virus uses to replicate. The change allowed it to become more nimble, allowing, when infecting a person, to achieve higher viral loads and make more copies of the virus. HIV in the body. This causes the disease to progress faster than usual. The higher the viral load, the greater the transmissibility of that person. ” It is still not known whether this variant has arrived in Brazil, but he has It has already been possible to verify that, despite its aggressiveness, it responds well to currently existing treatments.
Of our time, 38 million people are living with HIV: of this total, 28 million are on antiretroviral treatment. Since the 1990s, retrovirals have been used, in addition to new drugs, in treatment. For the infectiologist, containing the disease is not so difficult, but being able to diagnose everyone and contain the epidemic is more complicated. “The difficulty is to get HIV-positive people to test themselves and to face all the discrimination and serophobia that exist in the world and remain linked to treatment, to the health service, to consultations, to examinations. This is the difficulty. When a person manages to go through all these stages, there is no difficulty.
The infectiologist ventures to say that “discrimination, prejudice, homo and transphobia, social inequalities and machismo cause us many more obstacles to control the HIV pandemic than a genetic variant, because all HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment methods that already exist, available, work for this variant, you just need to be able to put it into practice.” According to UNAIDS, approximately 79 million people have been infected with the virus, which still has no vaccine or cure.Since the start of the pandemic, an estimated 36 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses and one and a half million have been newly infected with HIV in 2020.
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