HIV Cure Research: Where We Are, Where We Are Headed
Although research toward a cure for HIV is at an early stage, recent scientific advances give cause for hope, according to an opinion piece by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and colleagues. Dr. Fauci directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.
The article explains the rationale for pursuing research toward a cure for HIV, noting the many challenges associated with lifelong therapy for HIV infection. The authors define the two types of cures being pursued: viral eradication, in which all traces of HIV are gone; and sustained virologic remission, in which HIV replication is controlled in the absence of therapy. The article summarizes current research toward each of these goals, explaining the approaches being pursued and their stage of progress.
Given the observed cases of sustained virologic remission—including the 27-month remission following discontinuation of antiretroviral therapy observed in the “Mississippi Baby” before viral rebound occurred—the authors argue that closing the gaps in the care continuum (the steps from diagnosis of HIV through retention in care, early initiation of treatment and virologic suppression) would be integral to a possible cure. Therefore, the article concludes, investments in HIV care, and particularly the early diagnosis and treatment of infected individuals, must continue while the scientific community accelerates HIV cure research.
A.S. Fauci, H.D. Marston, G.K. Folkers. An HIV cure: feasibility, discovery and implementation. JAMA DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.4754 (2014).
NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., is available for comment.
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