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HIV Survives Drug Onslaught By Hiding Out in T Cells

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Science  14 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5341, pp. 1227
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5341.1227

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Potent new cocktails of anti-HIV drugs have been leading a counterattack against HIV, pounding the virus down to undetectable levels in the blood of many HIV-positive patients. But in this issue (pp. 1291 and 1295), two research teams report that while many patients taking these cocktails, known as combination therapy, for as long as 30 months show no signs of developing drug-resistant strains of HIV, they do still harbor latent virus in a small number of their T cells--immune cells that are HIV's primary target. And, in the test tube at least, these viruses can be induced to wake up and begin reproducing, simply by stimulating the T cells to become immunologically active--a condition known to be required for HIV to replicate.