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Perhaps one of the most promising treatments for HIV is a type of pill known as a pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, such as Truvada, which is intended to stop HIV transmission before it happens. But Truvada's cost puts it beyond the reach of many.

Bananas and Herbs – the Latest in HIV/AIDS Prevention?

bananasHIV prevention is one of the most heavily studied and researched areas in modern healthcare. There are thousands of scientists, doctors, and researchers studying the disease – literally around the clock. With that much attention and focus, there always seems to be some new news regarding prevention. Lately, much of the talk has centered on bananas, herbs, and a possible “magic” pill that could help to reduce the catastrophic numbers associated with the virus.

Lectin in Bananas May Have Anti-HIV Properties

Researchers from the University of Michigan published a study just last year suggesting that the lectin in bananas could be a key ingredient in preventing HIV. The researchers are teaming up to create higher concentrations of the lectin in a medication known as Ban Lec, which could be integral in saving hundreds of lives.

“These lectins bind to sugars,” says Mike Kamo of Nutrition Secrets. “The HIV virus is packaged in a structure containing the sugar mannose, and in studies the banana lectin bound to the HIV package and stopped its replication.”

This does not mean that eating bananas alone will prevent HIV, no matter how delicious they are. It requires high doses of lectin on a daily basis to inhibit the HIV transfer, which cannot be consumed by eating bananas alone.

Plant Combatants

Other studies have suggested certain herbs and plants show positive results in stopping the virus. These plants each have different ingredients with anti-HIV properties. Pinecone seeds have high lignin, which seems to help reverse cell destruction in infected white blood cells; plant sterols might also slow down the invasion of HIV cells; and an extract from pokeweed showed positive results in various animals in significantly slowing the HIV transmission.

Reishi mushrooms, a popular weight loss ingredient, have also shown positive results in relieving some of the symptoms of HIV, particular the effects of a poor immune system. Those who have eaten the mushrooms regularly have shown signs of a boosted immune system, which helps to fight off the infection.

PrEP Drug Could Prevent HIV

Perhaps one of the most promising treatments for HIV is a type of pill known as a pre-exposure prophylaxis medication, which is intended to stop HIV transmission before it happens.

Truvada, the most common type of drug that uses this treatment method, has shown significantly positive results in preventing the virus. It essentially coats immune system cells so that the virus cannot penetrate and infect the cells. Currently, only a few thousand people take the FDA-approved drug, even though the CDC estimates that nearly 500,000 people could benefit from the drug that has proven to be highly effective so far.

“It is more than 90 percent effective when taken daily,” according to Heather Boerner, contributor to the Washington Post. Boerner goes on to say that the drug generally has only mild side effects, such as headaches and nausea that usually go away within the first month.

The reason that more people aren’t taking it is the cost. Even those with insurance find the drug’s price to be astronomically high. They have been working to gain certain grants and donations that will make the drug more affordable for all.

Is This a Cure?

It’s important to note that these findings are small, and do not mean that we have found a cure. The findings in each of these studies have been slight and have only shown signs of improving the chances of avoiding HIV. The only real way to prevent or cure HIV is to be responsible with sexual activity, sharing needles, and unclean foods.

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About Jenna Cyprus

Jenna is a freelance writer who loves the outdoors; especially camping while relaxing with her family.

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One comment

  1. Dr Joseph S Maresca

    All of the above is good material to know.The next frontier is strengthening the immune system by first testing for the level of Vitamin D in the blood and supplementing with Vitamin D3 as necessary.Many doctors don’t even think of testing for Vitamin D in the blood.Before anything else, the immune system is the first line of defense for HIV or any other virus.

    Vitamin D and HIV/AIDS
    “In Tanzania, pregnant women with HIV were studied for about five years. Findings included:

    Higher vitamin D levels were associated with a slower progression of HIV to AIDS.

    Women with vitamin D levels above 32 ng/mL (80 nmol/L) had a 25% lower risk of disease progression.

    Women with higher vitamin D levels had a lower risk of dying from any cause during the study.”

    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/hiv-and-aids/