HIV/AIDS Will ‘Never’ Be Cured by Existing Drugs, Scientist Says
HIV/AIDS will "never" be cured by existing antiretroviral treatment, Dr. Robert Siliciano, an AIDS researcher from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, stated yesterday at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, the Miami Herald reports. Siliciano said that the human body has a "latent reservoir" for HIV, and that even patients in whom antiretroviral treatment has suppressed the virus to "below-detectable levels" still carry some of the virus. This reservoir guarantees "lifetime persistence of the virus and makes the disease intrinsically incurable with antiretroviral therapy alone," Siliciano said (Tasker, Miami Herald, 7/9). Although a cure is not likely "within reach," people infected with HIV might be able to have a "normal life expectancy" with the help of antiretroviral treatment. "In principle, [drug therapy] makes it possible to offer everyone with HIV infection the chance for a normal life," Siliciano said. He added that the "incurability of HIV infection ... is as powerful an argument for prevention efforts as we are likely to have" (Brown, Washington Post, 7/9).
Progress on Integrase Inhibitors
During today's session of the conference, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline reported positive early results in the development of an experimental class of AIDS drugs called integrase inhibitors, Reuters reports. Integrase is one of the three enzymes necessary for HIV to replicate in the body, and integrase inhibitors would stop HIV from inserting its genes into normal DNA. The other two enzymes necessary for viral replication -- reverse transcriptase and protease -- are already targeted by a variety of AIDS drugs, but integrase has been "elusive." If found to be successful, an integrase inhibitor could be on the market in approximately four years, although it will likely be too expensive for people in developing nations, Reuters reports (Hirschler, Reuters, 7/9).
NPR's "Morning Edition" today featured a report on new drug developments and treatment recommendations. The full segment will be available in RealPlayer Audio online after noon ET (Browning, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/9).