Mar 16, 2014
My friends and I were discussing the possible day when there is a complete, therapeutic cure for HIV, and how great it would be to test negative for HIV. It got me thinking. A test for HIV is a test for the immune system's HIV antibodies. Even if the body is completely cured of HIV, wouldn't a test for HIV still come back back positive for the HIV antibodies? In other words, once your immune system creates those antibodies, they are will always be there. Theoretical question, and you probably have far more important questions to answer, but i was just curious.
Response from Dr. Holodniy
It is an interesting question which is not answerable at this point. People infected with HIV and in whom HIV was eliminated would have developed an adaptive immune response to HIV during their infection lifetime. Adaptive immunity is acquired after exposure to some pathogen and would include antibody and cellular immune responses. Many of these cells are long-lived and are recruited if the person acquires the infection again. In the case of HIV, the person has it life-long and so these cells are in a constant state of readiness. Whether they all would disappear if HIV were gone, or just fade to the background, including those cells making HIV antibodies, is not known at this time.
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