HIV can rapidly form invulnerable strongholds in the body, dashing hopes that early treatment might cure the virus, according to new research. A baby (the so-called “Mississippi baby”) was thought to have been cured by initiating treatment hours after birth, but it was announced a few weeks ago that the virus had re-emerged after several years of apparently being absent from the blood.
New research suggests that untouchable “viral reservoirs” form even before HIV can be detected in the blood. Reservoirs of HIV in the gut and brain tissue are the massive obstacle in the way of a cure. Remarkable progress in developing antiretroviral drugs means HIV can be kept in check in the bloodstream and patients have a near-normal life expectancy; but if the drugs stop, the virus will emerge from its reservoirs back into the blood.
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