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How Did They cure HIV case in Germany? Isolated medical breakthrough when someone says it but what does it mean?

Updated on May 25, 2011

Did they just cure HIV?!

With news from Germany that a man with HIV was miraculously cured by a stem cell transplant, news all over the world has picked up the story: HIV is cured! The Berlin Patient, Timothy Ray Brown, has recently come out to the media from his home in San Francisco, announcing that he is cured of the disease. But, wait, Doctors and scientists are quick to point out that this one isolated case does not mean that HIV will stop being the most deadly sexually-transmitted disease on the planet, with crushing impacts on poor and rural communities that may never recover as many of their children are born with the disease and do not have access to the level of medical care that the Berlin Patient had in Germany.

Even in first-world nations like America, the very therapy that led to this amazing medical breakthrough are currently not legal. Stem cells are controversial, and any medical breakthroughs that occur through stem cell research comes with the knowledge that a human fetus was terminated to provide the stem cell. Until a method of stem cell harvesting can be pioneered that doesn't involve the termination of a fetus, there is little chance the medical procedure will be permitted in the US.

With a controversial treatment method, scientists are also quick to point out that these results are not typical. The procedure likely did not completely remove the deadly retrovirus. Instead, the virus has been reduced in the bloodstream, below what can be found in a normal test. The odds of a relapse are hard to guess, but the caution of the scientific community should be a sign that Timothy Ray Brown should not be declaring himself cured, just yet.

HIV is still a Deadly Nightmare

Though the world can applaud the medical community for their breakthrough, the battle is far from over. To this day, new cases of HIV are being reported at a breakneck pace in the developing and developed world. The tide of AIDS continues to decimate our homes and communities. Even "safe" people who engage in no risk behaviors can become the victim of violent crime through HIV positive rapists. In prisons, today, the HIV rate continues to rise, and the many dangerous, violent men in prison can cause a higher rate of infection in those close, violent quarters, and return to communities carrying a death sentence for family members and new victims. Stemming the tide of HIV is an important goal in the international push for social justice and peace all over the world.

What Other Steps are Working?

Scientists, Activists, and Medical Doctors are constantly pushing against the tide of the disease. Never before have so many treatment options been available. In communities ravaged by HIV, the presence of Anti-Viral and Anti-HIV drugs have proven effective in blocking the spread of the disease. Male circumcision, for instance, is easily implemented in rural and third world communities and can reduce the odds of transmission of the disease between partners.

Every day medical professionals and activists lead the charge against this deadly disease. They do so with the support of communities and donors. If you want to do something to help end this terrible disease, consider donations to organizations that are on the front lines of this illness. Internationally, the Red Cross is very active in Africa, where they are trying to push back against political corruption, homophobia, poverty, and a lack of education in communities that struggle to contain their increasing numbers of HIV-positive members.

At the state and local level, non-profit hospitals and organizations that specialize in underserved communities, like inner-city and rural communities, are on the front line in the struggle against HIV. Look around your community for organizations that take steps in your community to end the spread and the death sentence of HIV.

One of the first steps in stemming the spread of HIV in your local community can be found through organizations that try to end drug abuse, human sexual slavery and human trafficking. Often, powerless women and children are turned into disease vectors by the cruel indifference of the gangs and criminal organizations that carelessly sell these women and children as objects. Drug abuse is an important disease vector, as well, that can impact every level of society. It only takes one dirty needle to destroy a family. Needle drug users often come from otherwise respectable people and places in society, when a pharmaceutical painkiller addiction turns into flown-blown narcotic addiction. Stemming the tide of drugs in your home community also stems the tide of HIV.


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