The long-term battle against HIV - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

The long-term battle against HIV

Madison (WKOW) -- HIV hijacks the body's immune system and uses it to replicate itself.

  Over time, HIV cocktails that treat the infection become ineffective.

  But there's a new treatment that takes a different approach, and may help these medications work longer.

  When it comes to HIV, Edward Barnes has seen it all.

  He said, "I've had HIV for 24 years. Yeah, it's been a long journey."

  Because edward's had the virus for so long, he's tried nearly every drug to keep it under control.

  Barnes added, "so at a point maybe two or three years ago I had, I had become resistant to absolutely everything that was out there."

  Multi-drug resistance is a common problem that's caused when HIV replicates itself with mutations.

  Doctor Juan Bailey said, "we started having much more of a challenge in trying to come up with a medication that individuals may be sensitive to them."

  Now, a new drug called Isentress may help by cutting off HIV replication.

  It blocks an enzyme called Integrase that helps the virus merge its genetic material into the immune system's cells.

  Doctor Bailey also said, "the virus can't get into the host DNA. It can't incorporate itself there and then utilize the machinery of the cell to make more viruses. So that stops the process."

  By interrupting the replication process, the amount of virus in the body drops.

  Doctor Bailey added, "the viral load, something we can actually measure in the, in the blood, actually goes down substantially."

  It's made a remarkable difference since Edward added it to his drug cocktail.

  Barnes said, "I've remained undetectable for the first time in my life it's been able to be sustained, that has truly been a life-changing thing."

  Due, it's believed, to a drug that's helping crush the resistance.

  The hope is that isentress will reduce the amount of HIV in the body to a level that mutations are more rare.

  That will mean the other HIV medications will be able to work longer, with less risk of resistance.

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