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This article is part of the supplement: Abstracts from the 17th International Symposium on HIV and Emerging Infectious Diseases (ISHEID)

Open Access Invited speaker presentation

Towards a cure for HIV: a long road ahead

Tae-Wook Chun

  • Correspondence: Tae-Wook Chun

Author Affiliations

National Institute of Health, Bethesda, USA

Retrovirology 2012, 9(Suppl 1):I12  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-9-S1-I12

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:25 May 2012

© 2012 Chun; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Invited speaker presentation

Plasma viremia can be effectively suppressed and maintained below the limits of detection for extended periods of time in most human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). However, it has not been possible to eradicate HIV by ART alone, likely due in part to the persistence of various viral reservoirs in lymphoid tissues. In this regard, the existence of latently infected, resting CD4+ T cells carrying replication-competent HIV has posed one of the major challenges to the long-term control or eradication of HIV in infected individuals on ART. Consequently, there has been considerable focus on therapeutic strategies to reactivate the latent viral reservoir using various agents, such as cytokines, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and mitogens, under the assumption that these cells would die due to HIV induced cytopathic effects and antiretroviral drugs would prevent spread of infection. However, such approaches have shown no clinical benefit to date. Moreover, it also has become clear that HIV persists in subsets of CD4+ T cells in blood and lymphoid tissues of infected individuals receiving ART. Recent data from our laboratory will be discussed which will include potential mechanisms of HIV persistence and prospects for eradication and new therapeutic approaches in HIV-infected individuals receiving effective ART.