At the Virgen Macarena University Hospital, more than 1,300 patients are actively monitored by the Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Service. More than 95% have the virus under control thanks to the treatment they undergo, which has two main effects: on the one hand, it prevents the virus from damaging their immune system, so that they do not develop AIDS, and on the other , this. preventing them from transmitting the virus to others.
Today there is no definitive cure for the disease, but there are very simplified drugs that prevent a virus that, if it does not develop, allows those who carry it to have the same quality of life as those who do not carry it. .
The main current challenges in the fight against the HIV/AIDS virus, a pathology whose world day is celebrated today, are health, but also social, in the words of Dr. Jesús Rodríguez Baño, head of the Infectious Diseases Service at the Sevillian hospital, “Early diagnosis is very important: we must examine infected people before their immune system is damaged, because if the diagnosis is late the prognosis may be poor situation; and on the other hand, we must continue to work to avoid the stigmatization of people with HIV in their professional and personal areas.
Regarding early detection, the Emergency Service of the hospital center leads a protocol applied in Andalusian hospitals so that when some patients are admitted due to a health emergency, they are given a diagnostic test consisting of a serological test for HIV.
The goal is to facilitate diagnosis and for people with HIV infection to access antiretroviral treatment as soon as possible. The profile is of people between the ages of 18 and 70 treated by Hospital Emergency Services for pneumonia, mononucleosis syndrome, herpes zoster, consumption of toxic substances/chemsex, acute hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections and consultation for post-exposure prophylaxis.
Although the great wish is to obtain a preventive or therapeutic vaccine, the virus gives great difficulty to its own mutation. “HIV has a unique mutagenic capacity. When it multiplies, it produces a series of errors that, on the one hand, means that our immune system does not detect them, and we are not able to get curative antibodies , and, on the other hand, these errors do not affect its survival. . It can be said that it ‘hides’ the antigens from our immune system and cannot find them, because the virus integrates into DNA in our cells, which become part of the genetic system of the cells it infects.”
In terms of prevention, the doctor recommends that, in addition to continuous messages about safe sexual practices to the population, in the cases of those people with constant risk behavior, they access PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis ) programs. “This is a program that is already established in our health system; People with frequent risky behavior are offered antiretroviral drugs (which are part of treatment regimens) to prevent getting the infection; The counterweight is the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, a problem that we see more and more,” warned Rodríguez Baño.
One of the innovations in terms of treatment for certain types of patients with HIV is the marketing of a drug that is administered intramuscularly that is administered every two months and that replaces, in some cases, the current antiviral drugs that patients take every day. patients carrying the virus.