Eliminating Persistent HIV Reservoirs

A scientific paper has just been published to summarize current research towards HIV cure and draw a roadmap for coming years to achieve it.

Toulon, France, June 20, 2011 — There is optimism in the air about the recent discoveries in HIV research. through the discovery of antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications, HIV-infected individuals are living longer, happier, healthier lives. For some people, HIV has been effectively managed to the point where it feels like nothing more than a minor chronic illness. It’s a testament to how far technology and research in the field has come. However, the fact that 30 years after HIV was first brought into the mainstream consciousness of the world, a cure has not been found. The research has progressed to the point where finding better ways to manage HIV aren’t sufficient anymore. HIV cures are the words for the day now.

Alain Lafeuillade, Chief of the Department of Infectious Diseases at General Hospital in Toulon, France, recently released a paper entitled, “Potential Strategies for an HIV Infection Cure.” He begins by pointing out that while ART has improved the lives of HIV-infected patients, its widespread availability is limited -especially in developing countries, where HIV medication is few and far between. While a sterilizing cure may be out of reach, he argues, a functional cure, where infection is controlled without ART, is well within reach.

There are several different strategies being discussed and looked into when it comes to developing an HIV cure. The first addresses the HIV reservoirs within the body that house the HIV when it lies dormant in the body during its latency period. The persistence of HIV is evident by studies that show HIV replication returns to its normal rate once ART is stopped in an HIV-infected patient. ART only slows HIV down, it doesn’t stop it completely.

The paper stresses that getting rid of the HIV reservoir is the key to finding a functional cure for HIV. Adding drugs to the ART treatment will “wake up” these HIV reservoirs and stimulate production of HIV. The thought process is that stimulating the production will allow the drugs and the body’s own immune system more of an opportunity to kill off producing cells and reduce the reservoirs. It also gives a discussion on the progresses in gene therapy that continue to provide positive results so far. The paper ends with a discussion on what is needed from this point forward to move closer toward finding a cure.

About the paper:

Lafeuillade A. Potential Strategies for an HIV Infection Cure. HIV Clinical Trials 2011; 12 (3):121-30. DOI10.1310/hct1203-121


Dr. Alain Lafeuillade, MD, PhD
Department of Infectious Diseases
General Hospital
1208 Avenue Colonel Picot, 83056
Toulon, France
Tel: 33-4-94616340
Email: alain.lafeuillade@ch-toulon.fr
Website: http://www.hiv-eradication.org

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