Scientists at conference examine barriers to curing HIV infection. TAG proposes a workshop in 2008 to move these efforts forward.
The HIV persistence workshop is a biannual event held on the small Caribbean island of St. Maarten. The goal of the workshop is to bring together scientists working on issues relating to the persistence of HIV despite treatment and potential strategies for curing HIV (either by eradicating the virus or rendering it unable to cause disease without the need for lifelong drug therapy).
There is continued controversy over a number of aspects of HIV persistence and potential barriers to a cure, such as:
- Does HIV continue to replicate in most people on ART despite viral loads below the detection limit?
- What is the most important factor maintaining the reservoir of HIV-infected cells despite ART?
- Which types of cells are the most important reservoirs of HIV infection?
- What is the best way of measuring HIV DNA that is integrated into a cell’s genome versus DNA that is not integrated?
- Can intensification of ART (e.g., with integrase inhibitors) reduce the HIV reservoir?
During the workshop, representatives from TAG, Project Inform, the FAIR Foundation, and amfAR stressed their support for more coordinated efforts to resolve these issues and strengthen and accelerate research on a cure for HIV infection.
Toward this end, plans are underway to sponsor a 2008 workshop on these specific topics that will bring together researchers, activists, policy makers, and funders.