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Rumored European cure for HIV retracted and dismissed

GLENN TOWNES Special to the AmNews | 6/14/2013, 12:31 p.m.
Recently published news reports about scientists in Europe on the verge of finding a cure...
Honoring 20 years of providing HIV/AIDS services in Harlem

Recently published news reports about scientists in Europe on the verge of finding a cure for HIV/AIDS have been retracted and ultimately dismissed as false by many in the scientific community, including one of the lead researchers of the study, it was announced earlier this month.

The brouhaha started in April when researchers in Denmark announced that they had discovered a method to "flush the HIV virus out of someone's viral reservoir." The process involved the use of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, which historically have been used to treat mental illness, seizures and, most recently, cancer.

A banner headline in an April issue of Britian's Telegraph newspaper read, "Scientists on brink of HIV cure." The article eventually went viral and sparked an international frenzy that a cure for HIV was imminent. The notion has since been dismissed by one of the lead researchers in the study, Ole Sogaard. Sogaard is a physician at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark. In a posted response after the article, he said, "No, we are not on the brink of an HIV cure. I can say for sure that I never said we were."

He went on to say that while his research team is using HDAC inhibitors to flush the virus from an infected person's viral reservoir, it remains unclear if the body is able to kill and completely eradicate the virus.

"I think we are perhaps closer than we have ever been to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, but we still have a long way to go," said Phill Wilson, president of the Black AIDS Institute in California. "People are living longer despite having the virus." Wilson has been HIV-positive for nearly 30 years.

To view the findings of the Danish HIV/AIDS study, visit www.tagbasicscienceproject.typepad.com.