Can AIDS Be Cured?

Introduction

“Can AIDS Be Cured?” is a medical dispatch document written by Jerome Groopman and published in the New Yorker, an online magazine. The article was published in 2014 and it tries to analyze the possibility of finding cure for AIDS. Groopman analyzes the steps that the medical team has taken in its quest to indentify the most appropriate medications for Aids. He begins the document by describing how the condition was unknown in the early 1980s. During this time, several specialists were enlisted to try and investigate the factors that cause this infection. Most of the patients died as a result of different other diseases which took advantage of a weakened immune system. The article also describes the level that has been reached by researchers as they work towards finding a cure. He concludes by emphasizing that the medical profession has managed to tame this fatal disease and transform it to a chronic condition. This document critically analyzes Groopman’s document that tries to determine the possibility of finding a cure for AIDS.

Summary

One of the first cases of AIDs was reported in 1981 after an 18 year old prostitute was diagnosed with a rare type of fungal pneumonia known as Pneumocystis carinii. His platelet numbers had declined significantly and he soon died of respiratory failure after his lungs started to fail. By the end of 1982, close to twenty-nine thousand people in the U.S. had been diagnosed with AIDS and had died. However, the author says that “since then, H.I.V. has been transformed into a treatable condition, one of the great victories of modern medicine”. The first drug to manage this condition that was approved by FDA was AZT. Currently, there are over thirty types of antiretroviral (ARVs) medications that prevent HIV from reproducing in helper T cells. Early treatment plans had several negative effects, which include nerve damage, anemia, lipodystrophy, and lung and heart damage.

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AIDS research teams have tried to examine some of the ways of dislodging HIV from the hidden reservoirs in T cells. Scholars have discovered that HIV “could be intermittently released from the reservoir, even when the patient took antiretroviral drugs”. Timothy Ray Brown is one of the rare patients to be cured of HIV. Nevertheless, the medical procedure he underwent is not only spectacular, but also challenging to repeat. Radiation and chemotherapy had twice destroyed his native blood cells as well as immune system. However, “Brown’s case provided “a proof of concept: it may be possible to eradicate latent H.I.V. from the body. The trajectory being followed in the fight to control HIV-AIDs is similar to the one being used to fight several cancers. Just like the way childhood Leukemia was incurable in the 1950s, this cancerous condition is currently cured in nine out of ten cases. The first steps towards managing HIV places remission along a continuum, reducing the viral reservoir, and getting a cure at the end. This is a “shock and kill” strategy that doctors believe can work when it comes to curing HIV-AIDS.

Critique

I agree with the concepts raised by the author due to the fact that they are supported by research studies and other intervention strategies, and these issues will be comprehensively analyzed in the consequent paragraphs. Groopman’s article uses ingenious means to analyze the historical development and search for an AIDS cure. As a medical practitioner with several years of experience, Groopman assess the huge strides that have been made towards removing the virus from its hiding place in the T cells, and ways of preventing it reproduction and curing a patient. Basically, the step by step process of proving his points makes the article a useful resource for those individuals who want to track the development of AIDS cure for AIDS. There are a number of important points that have been raised in the document, and they will make the central points of this article critique.

To start with, the author has managed to prove that AIDS was a baffling condition that had not been discovered before the 1980s. When the first patient succumbed to symptoms that were similar to the ones associated with cancer, medical specialist had to be involved in trying to investigate the main causes. Groopman argues that by 1982, several patients were dying from different kinds of diseases that were associated with a weakened immune system. However, all these patients had a common disorder which scientists were yet to establish its main cause. CDC called this condition acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). From this standard point, it can be seen that the author has a professional background in medicine since he says that his patients were succumbing to a common disorder that was yet to be established.

Another crucial point raised by the author is the role of research teams in trying to establish the real cause of this condition and the possibility of finding a cure. Thousands of patients who had been diagnosed with this condition had died by the end of 1986. Since AIDS has comparable symptoms like those of cancer, the FDA approved a cancer drug known as AZT this transformed HIV into a treatable condition. However, the fact that this medicine had not been used in the market, it proved toxic since it was prescribed in very high doses. Researchers were yet to establish the most appropriate doses, or a combination of medications, that can be used to treat this condition. Groopman says that “Cancer cells, like H.I.V. particles, can mutate quickly enough to escape a single targeted drug”. Therefore, prominent scholars like David Ho started a treatment regimen known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

The author also analyzes the steps that can be taken towards finding an effective way of defeating HIV. Scholars already know how HIV infiltrates the cells of a host. In addition, it is known that HIV can lie dormant for several years in the cells of the host, and that the current drugs may lack the potency of killing these viruses. Therefore, the first important process towards defeating HIV is to reduce and then safely eradicate the viral load. New drugs are being tested on individuals who have lived with the virus for several years, while research studies are done continuously to evaluate the effectiveness of these drugs. An important issue raised by the author is the side effects associated with trying to defeat HIV. Although ARVs improves the immune system of the patient, the virus tends to persist thus creating a chronic inflammation that ends up destroying body tissues.

This article bases its findings on the works of prominent scholars such as Robert Siliciano who has studied the virus, from its dormant stages up to the time it springs to life and attacks the immune system. With several years of research work, Siliciano is one of the most prominent researchers who have studied the proteins that are released by the T cells when the harmful microbes ate encountered. The fact that scientists have been unable to find a viable cure for HIV is an indication of the potency of this condition. What makes this document informative is the fact that the author does not hide the truth about the extreme nature of the virus. Groopman argues that HIV has the abilities of surviving almost indefinitely. For instance, it can take continuous HAART treatment up to seventy years to completely eradicate all the memory T cells.

The author’s thesis is noble since he provides readers with examples of patients who have previously been cured from this condition. A leading example is Timothy Ray Brown whose bone-marrow transplant combined with radiation and chemotherapy led to the disappearance of the virus, and his T-cell count returned to normal. The second case is a Mississippi baby girl who was born with HIV and was put under antiretroviral therapy. The virus could not be detected for a period of two years, indicating that HAART has the ability of preventing HIV from developing a dominant reservoir. Although the virus was detected some months after treatment was interrupted, the researchers acknowledged the fact that early intervention has the ability of banishing HIV. The most challenging stage is destruction of the virus since the attacked cells lack enough HIV antigens. However, although setbacks have been met in the past, scientists and AIDS researchers remain hopeful that the remaining step is to discover a cure.

Conclusion

This document has critically analyzed the historical development of finding an AIDS cure, and the progress that has been made towards controlling this condition. Jerome Groopman’s document entitled “Can AIDS Be Cured?” is of huge significance since it has critically analyzed the progress made by scientists in developing a cure for AIDS. In the early 1980s, AIDS was virtually unknown and most patents died from conditions associated with cancerous diseases. Scholars have established that the virus tends to weaken the immune system of an individual thus exposing him to myriad diseases. However, years of research have led to development of more than thirty ARV drugs that have turned this killer condition into a chronic condition that can be managed. Further, the author has meticulously analyzed the steps by step process that has been essential in developing the current treatment plans. Collaboration between different researchers and analysis of how the virus develops offers an insightful strategy of taking care of this condition. I recommend this document since it is not only persuasive, but it also provides readers with the essential knowledge on matters regarding treatment of HIV-AIDS.

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