July 20, 2011
A group of 35 scientists and stakeholders on Monday published "The Rome Statement for an HIV Cure," which asserts, "Now, more than ever, it is time to seriously start looking for an HIV cure."
The statement -- released in Rome at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention -- kicks off a new global scientific strategy, "Towards an HIV Cure," which targets the virus' remarkable resiliency.
The early euphoria that accompanied the 1996 introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy gave way to disappointment when scientists realized HIV could hide in reservoirs inside the body, escaping destruction by the drugs, then rebound when treatment is interrupted.
"Not only would such a strategy act as therapy at the individual level but, considering the growing evidence that HIV transmission is dramatically reduced in the absence of detectable viral load, it would most probably contribute to HIV prevention at the population level," the statement says.
The new strategy "aims at building a global consensus on the state of HIV reservoirs research and defining scientific priorities that need to be addressed by future research to tackle HIV persistence in patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy."
"It's the right moment to stimulate research for an HIV cure, using a multidisciplinary approach," said 2008 Nobel laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of AIDS, and the group's leader. "We are very optimistic that a functional cure is possible."
More than 5,500 scientists are attending the conference, which ends Wednesday. To access the Rome Statement, visit www.iasociety.org/Default.aspx?pageId=583.
Agence France Presse
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