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October 2015

Examples of media coverage:

  1. New Breakthrough May Lead to HIV Relapse Cure – Indo-Asian News Service, October 11, 2015
  2. HIV breakthrough could lead to a CURE: Scientists identify markers on immune cells that ‘predict who can stop drug therapy and stay well’ – Daily Mail, October 9, 2015
  3. Doctors report major breakthrough in understanding virus that causes AIDS – New York Daily News, October 9, 2015

Original sources:

  1. Scientific journal article: Immunological biomarkers predict HIV-1 viral rebound after treatment interruption – Nature Communications, October 9, 2015
  2. Press release: HIV discovery – biomarkers predict virus return when treatment is stopped – University of New South Wales, October 9, 2015

TAG’s commentary:
The subject of these news stories is a study that identified an association between levels of certain immune system markers in the blood and the time it took for HIV viral load to rebound after an antiretroviral therapy (ART) interruption.

In general, the news stories do a reasonable job of explaining that the researchers are hoping their results can contribute to the cure research effort by helping predict whether an individual will be able to control viral load after ART is interrupted. This could assist in selecting individuals best suited for participation in cure research trials involving ART interruption. Measurement of the immune system markers that were associated with delayed viral load rebound might also help show if an experimental therapy is having a positive effect.

Some of the news headlines have suggested that the study results may lead directly to an HIV cure, but this is an inaccurate exaggeration. The UK’s NHS Choices website, which specializes in addressing inaccurate media stories, published an excellent article countering the inaccurate headlines and providing a more realistic perspective on the research.

For a more technical report on the study, see the posting on TAG’s Basic Science, Vaccines, and Cure Project Blog.


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