Cure For HIV

February 16, 2008 at 5:50 pm | Posted in diseases, drugs, news | 1 Comment
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Even the best drugs currently available cannot weed out HIV from all of its hiding places within the body, according to a new study of HIV patients in the United States. The discovery seems to confirm doctors’ suspicions that once the virus gains a foothold, it can never be fully eradicated from the body.

After years of aggressive drug treatment, the virus still hides out in significant reservoirs, particularly in tissues surrounding the gut lining, the researchers report. Cells in these tissues, a part of the immune system called ’gut-associated lymphoid tissue’, remain infected with the virus even though the patient may be leading an apparently healthy life.

Many HIV patients can manage their infection with a cocktail of drugs called antiretroviral therapies (ARTs). These can reduce their ’viral load’ – the amount of virus circulating in the blood plasma – to undetectable levels.

But the new study shows that even in such ’non-infectious’ patients the virus is still lurking in gut tissues, and still infecting other immune cells in the blood.

"It might not ever be possible to completely eradicate the virus from the body, even though people are doing well," says Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, who led the research. He adds, however, that this doesn’t mean that patients will be more likely than previously thought to pass on the virus to others.

Incurable

The finding underlines HIV’s status as an ’incurable’ infection, although in many cases doctors are able to stave off the onset of full-blown AIDS by giving patients sustained courses of drugs.

Indeed, so effective are current drugs that most say…

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