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Apr 28, 2006

Can you shed some light on the new study being conducted by the University of Washington in St.Louis in regards to the use of Fusion and other anti-HIV drugs. They are hoping to eliminate the hidden copies of the virus that previously have made a cure unattainable. The study also plans on using another unknown drug to activate the dormant viruses hidden in the lymph node cells and have those cells eliminated by the immune system or through anti-HIV drugs drug therapy. This study is scheduled for four years of "intensive treatment" and the hope of eliminating all viruses. What are your thoughts? It's almost similiar to chemo therapy in regards to the absolute bombardment of this virus.

Response from Dr. Daar

Thank you for your post.

I regret that I do not know all of the details of the study you are referring to. However, there have been several studies performed, underway, or planned to approach the problem of HIV persisting in the body of those with undetectable levels of virus on combination antiretroviral therapy.

We do know that in those with persistently undetectable virus in their blood, even after many years, when therapy is stopped virus almost always rebounds. Studies have shown that one place the virus is hiding is in so called "resting memory CD4 cells." The goal of studies like the one you appear to be describing is to completely block viral replication with as potent a combination of drugs as possible, including a fusion inhibitor while simultaneously attempting to clear those cells that are chronically and persistently infected. Several attempts at the latter have been made without success thus far. While preliminary, this type of research is extremely important as we pursue the ultimate, albeit highly evasive goal of "viral eradication" and cure.

In the meantime, for many people current therapy does appear to be holding the virus in check. Therefore, I remain extremely optimistic that many people living with HIV will never suffer the consequences of AIDS. Best, Eric

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