Bringing science and development together through news and analysis

  • HIV 'drug holidays' called into question

In people infected with HIV, helper T cells that express CD4 surface antigens gradually disappear from the blood as the immune system becomes weaker.

In a series of technically challenging experiments, Daniel Doeck of the US National Institutes of Health and colleagues show that HIV preferentially infects the HIV-specific CD4+ T cells. This evolutionary adaptation on the part of the virus enables it selectively to disable the specific immune response against it, thereby enabling persistent infection in an otherwise immunocompetent host.

The finding — published in the 2 May issue of Nature — raises questions over the practice of 'structured treatment interruptions', or 'drug holidays', a treatment regime that is currently the subject of a number of drug trials.

It raises the possibility that vaccine strategies aimed at increasing the frequency of HIV-specific CD4+ cells could serve only to increase the reservoir of infected cells.

Reference: Nature 417, 95 (2002)

Link to paper by Doeck et al
We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.