"HIV medications have evolved dramatically in recent years, allowing patients taking 1 tablet a day to keep the virus under control for life." exposes the Flemish university in a statement, in particular transmitted by RTBF. "The immune system remains affected. The risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer are therefore higher in HIV-positive patients."
What remains then in the body is therefore "an undetectable amount of viruses and these patients cannot further contaminate other people. However, in the body there is still a very small amount of virus – called a viral tank – that causes a massive reappearance of the virus in case of treatment interruption".
Temporary interruption of treatments
To locate this viral reservoir, Dr. Marie-Angélique De Scheerder and Prof. Linos Vanderkerckhove analyzed the virus in 11 volunteers after stopping – for a short period – their treatment.
"HIV hides in body-specific immune cells and therefore remains under the radar"explains Ghent University."Our study has shown that, contrary to what we thought so far, the very dividing immune cells are jointly responsible for this viral reservoir. We also show that the viral rebound does not come from a single organ or specific type of cell, but can come from different types of cells and parts of the body (such as blood, lymph nodes and intestinal tissue)"
In 2018, it was estimated at 37.9 million the number of people living with HIV in the world.