HIV May Hide In Tissues Even After Treatment

aids on paper with prescription pills on topHIV patients who’ve been treated with antiretroviral drugs still have the AIDS-causing virus in their tissues, a new study suggests.

Treatment with antiretrovirals eliminates detectable levels of HIV in the blood and controls the disease. But the new findings suggest that HIV in the tissues may not cause AIDS but could contribute to the development of unrelated conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, according to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) researchers.

“Looking in tissues of treated HIV patients, we found that HIV in some tissues did not appear to be affected by antiretrovirals,” said study senior author Dr. Michael McGrath.

“Notably we saw no evidence of drug resistance, which we would have seen if the virus had been exposed to medications,” said McGrath. He is UCSF professor of laboratory medicine at the AIDS and Cancer Specimen Resource, which is supported by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

This finding is expected in untreated patients, but it was a surprise to see it in virally suppressed patients, he added.

“Our results suggest that HIV in varied tissue compartments can be untouched by the medications,” McGrath said in a university news release.