HIV is still growing, even when undetectable in the blood

Nature (2016)
Cartoon illustration of the drug concentration-dependent spatial model. (Nature 2016) See below.

A team of international researchers including scientists from Oxford University has found that HIV is still replicating in lymphoid tissue even when it is undetectable in the blood of patients on antiretroviral drugs.

The findings provide a critical new perspective on how HIV persists in the body despite potent antiretroviral therapy.

The study, led by Northwestern University, USA and University of Oxford, is published in the journal Nature.

“Deep sequencing is able to detect mutations in the virus that are present at very very low numbers,” says Helen Fryer. “We wanted to see if we could find mutational changes that are consistent with viruses going through cycles of replication. We know as HIV replicates, it makes mistakes pretty much every time it infects a new cell.”