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HIV “reservoir” finding

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can suppress HIV to the point where the virus is nearly undetectable, and people on medication can live for many years. 

But therapy cannot completely eradicate the virus; it persists in reservoirs inside immune cells, a phenomenon called “latency”. 

This latent reservoir forms even when a person begins therapy very early after infection, but the dynamics of the reservoir’s formation have been largely unknown. Now scientists have discovered evidence that the initial use of ART alters the host environment to allow the formation or stabilisation of most of the long-lived HIV reservoir that is then present for many years.

This research was published in Science Translational Medicine and led by scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the University of Cape Town, and the CAPRISA research team in South Africa.

Their research shows that the long-lived reservoir of HIV in blood mostly reflects viral strains that were present at the time treatment was initiated, with these latent viruses persisting after years of treatment. 

Image credit | iStock

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