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Medical News

Australia: Understanding HIV's Infectious Grip

October 7, 2010

Australian scientists believe they know how HIV can establish itself in latent form in the human body, a mystery that has presented the foremost barrier to eradicating the virus by highly active antiretroviral therapy. The study proposes a mechanism through which HIV persists in latently infected resting CD4+ T cells.

"Once HIV gets into these cells, the virus can then go to sleep," said study co-author Sharon Lewin, director of The Alfred's Infectious Diseases Unit and co-head of the Burnet Institute's Center for Virology.

"These silently infected cells are not cleared by anti-HIV drugs or the immune system," Lewin said. "Once a patient stops the anti-HIV drugs, the virus can then wake up and get going again. Understanding this mechanism will enable new treatment options to be developed which could block latent infection."

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