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HIV Clin Trials. 2011 May-Jun;12(3):121-30. doi: 10.1310/hct1203-121.

Potential strategies for an HIV infection cure.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, General Hospital, Toulon, France.


Despite long-term viral suppression with antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV persists in reservoirs and sanctuary sites. Lifelong therapy is therefore necessary, leading to problems of compliance, toxicity, and cost. Over the last few years, important advances have been made in our understanding of the composition and the maintenance mechanisms of the HIV reservoir. Although complete viral eradication is currently out of reach, a growing number of scientists think that a "functional" cure is achievable. This situation would combine no disease progression, no virus transmission, and a life expectancy close to uninfected individuals in the absence of ART. At acute HIV infection, ART increases the frequency of sustained viremia control after its discontinuation, compared with the natural history of untreated disease. For patients at the chronic stage of HIV infection, ART alone is insufficient to clear viral reservoirs and new molecules intended to purge this reservoir or gene therapy approaches are warranted. This search for a cure needs innovation, audaciousness, and coordination. It also needs political, institutional, and private commitments for funding, which by now are severely lacking.

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