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Transplant Drugs May Help Reduce HIV Persistence

April 4, 2014

This article was reported by Red Orbit.

Red Orbit reported on research suggesting that anti-rejection drugs used after transplantation may help fight HIV. The virus remains hidden in the immune system even though patients are adhering to the antiretroviral treatment regimen. The drugs cannot eliminate the hidden virus. Researchers suspect inflammation in the body in response to the infection maintains an environment supportive of the virus. Steven Deeks, MD of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues investigated whether immunosuppressants could help fight HIV by reducing the inflammation in the body in response to HIV infection.

The researchers analyzed the effect of immunosuppressants on HIV in 91 HIV-positive kidney transplant recipients, who were followed for a median of 3.2 years after transplant. Analysis of participants' blood indicated that the HIV was well-controlled after transplantation and long-term use of an immunosuppressant. Also, patients who took the immunosuppressant sirolimus had fewer HIV-infected blood cells, suggesting that sirolimus may affect the level of HIV persistence.

The researchers concluded that the results highlight the potential role of strong immunosuppressants in finding a cure for HIV.

The full report, "Reduction of HIV Persistence Following Transplantation in HIV-Infected Kidney Transplant Recipients," was published online in the American Journal of Transplantation (2014; doi: 10.1111/ajt.12699).

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