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Friday, November 10, 2017

HIV Cure Forum

Help the Research Effort

Want to participate in research focused on flushing out HIV from reservoirs deep in the body? Read on… On October 25th, AIDS Action Baltimore (AAB), in conjunction with the DARE Community Advisory Board, hosted an “HIV Cure Forum” with Dr. Bob Siliciano, of Johns Hopkins, one of the foremost researchers in HIV cure research.

The basis of Dr. Siliciano’s research, is focused on destroying the HIV virus hiding in latent reservoirs in the body. Each person has a set of memory CD4 T-cells, and a set of activated naïve CD4 T-cells, copies of the memory cells.

Generally, the HIV virus infects and kills the activated copies of the memory cells, however it is believed that a few memory CD4 T-cells become infected with the virus, forming a latent, inactive reservoir.

While people living with HIV who are undetectable are unable to transmit the virus, the virus remains hidden in reservoirs, only to reappear at some point after antiretroviral treatment is ended. In fact, research on near-cure patients, such as Boston Patient B and the Mississippi Baby, show that HIV can persist in latent form for years, and then resume replication.

Dr. Siliciano’s cure approach is a “shock and cure strategy’, that involves flushing the HIV cells from their latent reservoir, and then killing those activated cells. Several drugs are being researched in this area, but so far without success.

Currently Dr. Siliciano and his team are working to develop and assay test to show the reversal of latency using patient cells. To obtain the cells necessary for this research, they require a large number of patients willing to undergo a process called leukapheresis, through which the cells are removed from the study participants’ blood. It is important to note that this research is not likely to directly benefit the health of participants. To find out more information and to volunteer for this research, call Subul Beg at 410-955-7757.

“Dr. Bob Siliciano, one of the foremost researchers in this fascinating field, gave an excellent presentation,” said AAB’s founder and president Lynda Dee. “We want to be sure the Baltimore HIV community is aware of cutting edge research, including the many research and ethical challenges we face in this arena.”

AAB hosts a monthly HIV education meeting on topics such as HIV prevention and treatment once a month at the Waxter Center as part of their New Horizons program. Contact them at 410-837-2437 or visit Aidsactionbaltimore.org for more info.

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