LONDON: Casting doubts on finding a cure for HIV anytime soon, British researchers have found that the virus can grow silently in patients who are thought to be responding well to treatment.
Advances in anti-retroviral therapy given to HIV patients over the past 30 years mean that most patients can have their virus suppressed to almost undetectable levels and live a long and healthy life.
It had been thought that after many years of successful treatment the body would naturally purge itself of the virus, said the study published in the journal EbioMedicine.
This research shows that sadly the HIV virus has found yet another way to escape our treatments, said lead researcher Anna Maria Geretti, professor at University of Liverpool.
The researchers found that during treatment for HIV, the virus hides in blood cells that are responsible for the patient’s immune response. The virus does this by inserting its own genetic information into the DNA of the blood cells called CD4 Tlymphocytes.
The research demonstrates that whenever a CD4 cell multiplies to produce more cells it copies itself and also copies the HIV genes.
This process a sort of silent HIV replication means the virus does not need to copy itself produce new virus particles and infect new CD4 cells but is automatically incorporated at the birth of the cell, the study noted.