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International AIDS Society Launches International HIV Cure Working Group

An international group of scientists met this week in Boston prior to the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2011) to initiate a new global working group focusing on HIV reservoirs and their eradication -- a key element in the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS. The group, co-chaired by International AIDS Society (IAS) president-elect Francoise Barré-Sinoussi and Steve Deeks from the University of California at San Francisco, grew out of the IAS "Towards a Cure" meeting held last summer in Vienna. The working group will be informed by an advisory board comprised of major stakeholders including clinicians, funders, and people with HIV and their advocates. alt

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No More Science Fiction -- HIV Gene Therapy Delivers

A gene therapy technique using a zinc finger nuclease to disable expression of CCR5 co-receptors on CD4 cells led to robust T-cell increases in a small study reported at the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection (CROI 2011) this week in Boston. A related study showed that a similar technique can knock out CXCR4 co-receptors. Trial participant Matt Sharp describes the study findings and his experience. alt

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Low-level HIV Persists Despite Long-term Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy

People on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) reach an HIV viral load and antibody "set-point," with a low level of persistent virus detectable using sensitive tests, according to study findings reported in the October 23, 2010 issue of AIDS. This research adds to the evidence that ART alone is not sufficient to eradicate all HIV from the body.

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Berlin Patient Still HIV-free 4 Years after Bone Marrow Transplant

The "Berlin Patient" -- now known to be Timothy Ray Brown -- remains free of any detectable HIV in his blood, gut tissue, and other reservoir sites 4 years after receiving a bone marrow transplant containing stem cells from a donor with the CCR5-delta32 mutation, according to a report in the December 8, 2010 advance online edition of Blood. These findings, his doctors say, "strongly suggest that cure of HIV has been achieved in this patient. alt

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Reduction of Latent HIV Reservoir Does Not Prevent Viral Rebound after Stopping Antiretroviral Therapy

Long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) started during primary HIV infection can reduce plasma HIV RNA to an undetectable level and HIV proviral DNA in resting CD4 T-cells to an extremely low level -- as few as 1 per 1.7 billion cells, researchers from the National Institutes of Health reported in the October 19, 2010 advance online edition of AIDS. Nevertheless, viral replication still resumes and viral load rebounds if ART is interrupted, even after 10 years on suppressive treatment.

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