Antibody Shows Promise as Treatment for HIV

Treating HIV with an antibody can reduce the levels of the virus in people's bodies — at least temporarily. The approach, called passive immunization, involves infusing antibodies into a person's blood. Several trials are under way in humans, and researchers hope that the approach could help to prevent, treat or even cure HIV. The work is a milestone towards those goals, says Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. “This is an early study, but it’s a study with some impressive results,” he says.

Researchers tested four different doses of an HIV antibody called 3BNC117 in 29 people in the United States and Germany. Seventeen of the participants had HIV, and 15 of those were not taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the time of the study. One infusion of the highest dose of antibody, given to 8 participants, cut the amount of virus in their blood by between 8 and 250 times for 28 days. But much work remains to determine whether the approach can produce longer-lasting effects and whether it is practical for clinical use.

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Culture Stats & Facts

  • Black African MSM appear twice as likely to contract HIV as other ethnic groups

    (Sigma Research, 2011)

  • BAME MSM make up 0.1% of the total population in the UK, but 13% of MSM diagnosed with HIV.

    (Nastal-3, PHE, 2013)

  • Black MSM are also twice as likely to report homophobic attacks in their local area compared to the white population - 13% compared to 6% respectively

    (Stonewall, 2013)