It had been thought that after many years of successful treatment, the body would naturally purge itself of the virus."This research shows that sadly, the HIV virus has found yet another way to escape our treatments," said lead researcher Anna Maria Geretti, Professor at University of Liverpool.

For the study, the researchers followed patients undergoing uninterrupted treatment for up to 14 years. "The good news is that we did not see any worsening over time, but the bad news is that these findings really cast doubt over whether HIV can be 'cured' by increasing immune cell responses against it,a strategy that now looks like it will eventually fail," Geretti noted.

The researchers found that during treatment for HIV the virus hides in blood cells that are responsible for the patient's immune response. The virus does this by inserting its own genetic information into the DNA of the blood cells, called CD4 T lymphocytes.

The research demonstrates that whenever a CD4 cell multiplies to produce more cells, it copies itself and also copies the HIV genes. This process,a sort of silent HIV replication means the virus does not need to copy itself, produce new virus particles, and infect new CD4 cells but is automatically incorporated at the birth of the cell, the study noted. The findings were published in the journal 'EbioMedicine'.


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