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Cure Setbacks: A Top HIV Clinical Development of 2014

December 15, 2014

Ever since the Berlin Patient had HIV eradicated from his body, we have been waiting for an announcement of the second cure.

Still waiting.

After a sort of Berlin Patient-like stem cell transplant in a couple of patients in Boston was followed by rebound of the virus after cessation of HIV therapy, all eyes were on a toddler born in Mississippi with HIV in her blood but none detected after a break in her therapy. Unfortunately, we learned a few months ago that she too had a recurrence of viremia and was, in fact, not cured.

These disappointments have led to a shift in the cure conversation. It is becoming clear that this is not simply a matter of flushing out latent virus harbored in various reservoirs. Increasingly, we are talking about so-called functional cures, wherein the virus is not eradicated but control of replication is achieved without the need for continuous medication. More and more, there is discussion of a critical need to provoke immune responses that can partner with other interventions, such as those aimed at reducing latent virus pools. Vaccines and gene therapy are now being pursued toward this end.

It has been a sobering year for cure research, and an adjustment of expectations and strategies has followed. It is likely that incremental steps rather than a huge leap will lead us to a true cure.

What are some other top clinical developments of 2014? Read more of Dr. Wohl's picks.

David Alain Wohl, M.D., is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina and site leader of the University of North Carolina AIDS Clinical Trials Unit at Chapel Hill.


Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.



 

Reader Comments:

Comment by: nasser (Auckland ) Wed., Dec. 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm UTC
I hope that i will see a future where HIV becomes as dangerous as hiving a hep A or STI infection - which are treatable with no constant medication and the ability to allow partners to conceive children and have families and travel the world without being denied by countries because of hiv. i wish to see the world were the state of hiv becomes like small poxs - fully gone and none existent in a population of people not so that people can have sexual activities without thought but so that the burden on humanity can be lifted. Its not bad living with HIV in the current times , due to effective medication and development in health science but its the consequences of having HIV and the medical predispositions that are associated with the infection. we need to see the countries putting their war money into eradicating this horrible virus. we spend more on war than this so i just hope that some politician or some political activist sees this and helps me voice this matter.
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