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Yale J Biol Med. 2017 Jun 23;90(2):245-259. eCollection 2017 Jun.

Mechanisms of Virologic Control and Clinical Characteristics of HIV+ Elite/Viremic Controllers.

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Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) disease is pandemic, with approximately 36 million infected individuals world-wide. For the vast majority of these individuals, untreated HIV eventually causes CD4+ T cell depletion and profound immunodeficiency, resulting in morbidity and mortality. But for a remarkable few (0.2 to 0.5 percent), termed elite controllers (ECs), viral loads (VLs) remain suppressed to undetectable levels (< 50 copies/ml) and peripheral CD4+ T cell counts remain high (200 to 1000/μl), all in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Viremic controllers (VCs) are a similar but larger subset of HIV-1 infected individuals who have the ability to suppress their VLs to low levels. These patients have been intensively studied over the last 10 years in order to determine how they are able to naturally control HIV in the absence of medications, and a variety of mechanisms have been proposed. Defective HIV does not explain the clinical status of most ECs/VCs; rather these individuals appear to somehow control HIV infection, through immune or other unknown mechanisms. Over time, many ECs and VCs eventually lose the ability to control HIV, leading to CD4+ T cell depletion and immunologic dysfunction in the absence of ART. Elucidating novel mechanisms of HIV control in this group of patients will be an important step in understanding HIV infection. This will extend our knowledge of HIV-host interaction and may pave the way for the development of new therapeutic approaches and advance the cure agenda.


Elite Controllers; HIV; Long-term non progressors; Viremic controllers

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