KINSHASA, 2 March 2021 – Scientists say the discovery of a large group of people in DR Congo whose bodies naturally control HIV – the virus which causes AIDS – raises hopes of a cure.

Whereas less than one percent of people worldwide are usually able to suppress the HIV virus, the umber is much higher in DR Congo.

Taking Care of HIV:AIDS Patients - Photo Open Heart House

Taking Care of HIV:AIDS Patients – Photo Open Heart House

A study found that four percent of carriers in the country are able to suppress the virus.

Scientists say the higher number could serve as a springboard for further research to develop a vaccine or new treatments to better tackle the virus which causes AIDS.

“This could mean that this is something that we can actually cure,” said Mary Rodgers, the study’s lead scientist, who told the BBC that her team was both surprised and elated to see such uplifting data.

Between 2.7 percent and 4.3 percent persons living with the virus in DR Congo successfully suppress the virus.

The study found that another one percent of people living with HIV in Cameroon were also able to suppress the virus without medication.

Curbing HIV-AIDS in Chad - Photo UNICEF

Curbing HIV-AIDS in Chad – Photo UNICEF

The findings of a study published in eBioMedicine (a part of The Lancet family of medical journals) studied samples from the virus taken from people living with HIV between 1987 and 2019.

Scientists from the pharmaceutical company Abbott worked together on the study with colleagues from the Protestant University in DR Congo, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Most people living with HIV have to take anti-retroviral medicines daily to suppress the virus and reduce their viral load.

The scientists say more research will be needed.

The HIV virus has infected 76 million people since the 1980s, with 38 million people living with the virus.

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