Podcast: The Latest HIV Research — Destroying a Virus That Hides
After more than four decades of investigation, scientists may be on the precipice of finding a cure for HIV, a virus that currently can be controlled and reduced to undetectable levels in the body but not completely eradicated.
Mario Stevenson, Ph.D., director of the HIV and Emerging Infectious Diseases Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, joined the latest episode of “Inside U Miami Medicine” to discuss this vexing challenge. Dr. Stevenson is an internationally recognized molecular virologist who has worked on the viral etiology of HIV for more than 25 years.
“We have antivirals which keep the virus undetectable for decades, but that is not an end game. In almost every case of patients who stop taking antiretroviral medication, the virus comes back in a couple of weeks,” said Dr. Stevenson, who is also the co-director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research and the Raymond F. Schinazi and Family Endowed Chair in Biomedicine. “We need a robust strategy to combat the epidemic on our doorstep. Ultimately, we would like to achieve a single-shot cure, and our work helps to take research in that direction.”
Although HIV can be suppressed using antiretroviral therapy (ART), it cannot yet be cured. This is because the virus integrates itself into host cells and may become dormant but remains ready to emerge from the cell reservoirs when ART stops. Thus, individuals with HIV require lifelong adherence to medication.
“The key obstacle to a cure is latent HIV reservoirs,” said Dr. Stevenson. “This virus has ways to circumvent everything we throw at it.”
Tune in to the episode to understand why the body doesn’t recognize the latent HIV cells in reservoirs and how the latest research and therapies are targeting the masked virus.
Find the episode on Apple podcasts, or search “Inside U Miami Medicine” wherever you listen to podcasts.