The silent growth of HIV


Despite treatment HIV grows silently

vih1-785x350O HIV may continue to grow in patients who think they are responding well to treatment, according to a University of Liverpool survey.

During the treatment of the HIV virus it hides in blood cells called T lymphocytes CD4 which are responsible for the patient's immune response, inserting their own genetic information into the DNA of CD4 cells.

A study conducted by the University of the Infection Institute and Global Health measuring the levels of HIV integrated into the CD4 cells of patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years, thus comparing patients who received treatment for different lengths of time. The researchers found that the amount of HIV was found and integrated into the CD4 cells was not decreased at all since p 1 year of treatment even in patients with a treatment window up to 14 years.

Copy genes

Research shows that whenever a CD4 cell multiplies to produce more cells, it makes a copy of itself and copies the HIV genes as well. This process - a sort of silent replication of HIV, means the virus does not need to copy, produce new virus particles and infect new CD4 cells - but is automatically incorporated at the birth of the newly created cell.

Antiretroviral Therapy is given to HIV patients to stop the production of new viruses that prevent infection and death of CD4 T lymphocytes and the progression of the disease.

Advances in antiretroviral therapy over the past 30 years, mean that most patients can have their virus suppressed to undetectable levels and live a life long and healthy. It had been thought that, after many years of successful treatment, the body would be able to purge itself of the virus.

Hard to suppress

Professor Anna Maria Geretti, who led the study, said: “This research shows that, unfortunately, the HIV virus has found another way to escape our treatments.

“We always knew that HIV is hard to suppress completely, and that it hides inside CD4 cells, but we always hoped that the body would gradually renew its CD4 cells and then HIV would die a hidden death. We were surprised to find that the levels of integrated HIV in CD4 cells are not reduced even over a period of 14 years.

“The good news is that we don't see any worsening over time; Unfortunately the bad news is that these findings do cast doubt on whether HIV can be "cured" by simply improving immune responses against it - a strategy that now seems doomed to fail. "

The results are published in the journal Biomedicine.

Translated from original HIV grows Despite treatment, study finds by  Claudio Souza.
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