Can HIV be eradicated?

The central challenge to viral eradication is that, once HIV genetic material (proviral DNA) is incorporated into an infected cell, it persists throughout the remainder of the cell's lifetime. Current antiretroviral drugs neither kill these latently infected cells nor eliminate the viral genetic material within them. As long as HIV persists in latently infected cells, it can resume actively replicating as soon as suppressive ART is discontinued.

In the mid-1990s, some experts proposed that several years of antiretroviral therapy should be enough to eradicate HIV entirely, since latently infected cells would all die off within that time. However, it was soon shown that latent HIV infection could persist for years or even decades in certain types of long-lived cells, such as macrophages and resting CD4 cells. The challenges of eliminating HIV from all such ‘reservoirs’ has led many to doubt that such a goal is even theoretically possible.

Recently, however, interest in viral eradication has been renewed, sparked in large part by an apparent "cure" in an HIV-positive man who received a bone marrow transplant while receiving ART (See Bone marrow transplantation, below). Research in the area actively continues.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.