Since the first cases of AIDS in 1981 and the identification of its etiological agent in 1983, much progress has been made in both the development of tools to prevent and treat HIV infection and the access to these tools. In particular, the wide array of antiretroviral treatments that now exists has considerably transformed the face of the infection from a lethal disease to a chronic condition. Today, thanks to unprecedented international efforts, the more than 10s of millions of people living with HIV have access to these life-saving treatments in resource-limited countries.
However, the sustainability of these life-long therapies is a real challenge both for the patients who have to meticulously take them each day and for the global economy considering their cost. Indeed, these antiretroviral treatments are not curative as HIV latently persists in reservoir cells and in many compartments of the host.
Novel therapeutic strategies that would cure HIV infection or at least induce a sustainable remission in patients without the need to further take medication are thus an absolute necessity. The increased knowledge of HIV reservoirs and of the mechanisms of persistence as well as reports of proof of concept studies, have generated great optimism in the scientific community, which now believe that sustainable remission of HIV infection is an achievable goal.
In 2010, the International AIDS Society launched the “Towards an HIV Cure” initiative with the aim to mobilize the scientific community and accelerate research on this topic, which has since then become a priority in the HIV science agenda.
1. Towards an HIV cure: a global scientific strategy.
International AIDS Society Scientific Working Group on HIV Cure, Deeks SG, Autran B, Berkhout B, Benkirane M, Cairns S, Chomont N, Chun TW, Churchill M, Di Mascio M, Katlama C, Lafeuillade A, Landay A, Lederman M, Lewin SR, Maldarelli F, Margolis D, Markowitz M, Martinez-Picado J, Mullins JI, Mellors J, Moreno S, O'Doherty U, Palmer S, Penicaud MC, Peterlin M, Poli G, Routy JP, Rouzioux C, Silvestri G, Stevenson M, Telenti A, Van Lint C, Verdin E, Woolfrey A, Zaia J, Barré-Sinoussi F.
Given the limitations of antiretroviral therapy and recent advances in our understanding of HIV persistence during effective treatment, there is a growing recognition that a cure for HIV infection is both needed and feasible. The International AIDS Society convened a group of international experts to develop a scientific strategy for research towards an HIV cure. Several priorities for basic, translational and clinical research were identified. This Opinion article summarizes the recommendations of the group to funding agencies and to the international community.
Nat Rev Immunol. 2012 Jul 20;12(8):607-14.
2. HIV cure research: Advances and prospects.
Passaes CP, Sáez-Cirión A.
Thirty years after the identification of HIV, a cure for HIV infection is still to be achieved. Advances of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) in recent years have transformed HIV infection into a chronic disease in patients on cART. However, in spite of this favorable outcome, cART is not curative and patients are at risk of developing non-AIDS malignancies. Moreover, universal access to cART is still restricted by financial obstacles. This review discusses the most recent strategies that have been developed in the search for an HIV cure and to improve life quality of people living with HIV.
Virology. 2014 Apr; 454-455C:340-352.