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Scientists At Seattle Conference Discuss Progress, Obstacles In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

“Scientists, stymied for decades by the complexity of the human immunodeficiency virus, are making progress on several fronts in the search for a cure for HIV infections,” but “[a] major stumbling block is the fact that HIV lies low in pools or reservoirs of latent infection that even powerful drugs cannot reach, scientists told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, one of the world’s largest scientific meetings on HIV/AIDS,” in Seattle last week, Reuters reports. “Promising tactics range from flushing hidden HIV from cells to changing out a person’s own immune system cells, making them resistant to HIV and then putting them back into the patient’s body,” the news service writes.

“Thanks to prevention measures, tests that detect HIV early and new antiretroviral drugs that can control the virus for decades, infection with the virus that causes AIDS is no longer a death sentence,” Reuters writes, adding, “Still, questions of cost, side effects, drug resistance and ultimate lifespan, make lifelong use of antiviral drugs a less-than-ideal solution.” The news service recaps recent research and advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS and notes, “The International AIDS Society last year formally added the aim of finding a cure to its HIV strategy of prevention, treatment and care” (Beasley, 3/11).