WebMD Medical News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Louise Chang, MD
July 20, 2012 -- An AIDS cure is possible, top HIV/AIDS researchers now say.
It's a stunning turnaround. Hopes for an AIDS cure were dashed early in the epidemic when researchers realized that the AIDS virus can lurk inside dormant cells to avoid elimination by powerful anti-HIV drugs.
"Today we have new information that makes us think an HIV cure should be possible," HIV co-discoverer Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, PhD, tells WebMD.
Barre-Sinoussi and other leading AIDS researchers today open a two-day conference, "Towards an AIDS Cure," in advance of next week's International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. It's the most optimistic opening of an AIDS conference since the discovery that a combination of HIV drugs could keep a person from developing AIDS.
Now these researchers want to go a step further. They believe it's possible to totally eradicate HIV from the body -- or, failing that, to achieve a "functional cure" that will keep a person AIDS-free without the need for HIV drugs despite lingering HIV in the body.
Barre-Sinoussi is president-elect of the International AIDS Society, sponsor of the International AIDS Conferences, and the major partner in the new AIDS cure alliance.
Co-led by Barre-Sinoussi and Steven G. Deeks, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, a group of 34 top AIDS researchers and clinicians has laid out a global scientific strategy for curing AIDS.
This strategy stresses six key steps that must be taken:
There are seven priorities for this research:
It's not a pipe dream. Eleven HIV cure clinical trials already are under way. Three others are starting soon.
SOURCES:Deeks, S.G. and Barre-Sinoussi, F. Nature, July 19, 2012.Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, PhD, director, retroviral infections unit, Institut Pasteur, and president-elect, International AIDS Society.News release, International AIDS Society.International AIDS Society web site.
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