Curing AIDS means riding the body of the HIV virus. As we learned in lecture, the HIV virus replicates itself inside of human T-cells and destroys the CD4 cells that are essential for our immune systems. Current anti-retroviral drugs are so effective at reducing the amount of HIV in a person’s body that if someone takes the viral load test (the test that determines if someone is infected with HIV) while on an anti-retroviral treatment, the test cannot detect the HIV virus and will come back negative. However, as we learned that bacteria can remain dormant for long periods of time, so can viruses. Similarly to cholera remaining dormant in Copepods, HIV viruses can do the same in CD4 cells. During this ‘resting’ or ‘dormant’ stage, HIV does not replicate itself and may remain undetected in the body. HIV can remain dormant in cells for many years, even decades, and antiretroviral treatments currently cannot combat ‘resting’ HIV. Additionally, if someone infected with dormant HIV stops taking antiretroviral treatment, HIV will begin to replicate again and can lead to AIDS.
If there is to be an effective cure for HIV, it needs to be able to detect and effectively remove all HIV infected cells.
To read more about possible HIV cures and treatments, see http://www.avert.org/cure-for-aids.htm.