HIV-1 functional cure: will the dream come true?

BMC Med. 2015 Nov 20;13:284. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0517-y.


The reservoir of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), a long-lived pool of latently infected cells harboring replication-competent viruses, is the major obstacle to curing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although the combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) can successfully suppress HIV-1 viremia and significantly delay the progression of the disease, it cannot eliminate the viral reservoir and the patient must continue to take anti-viral medicines for life. Currently, the appearance of the 'Berlin patient', the 'Boston patients', and the 'Mississippi baby' have inspired many therapeutic strategies for HIV-1 aimed at curing efforts. However, the specific eradication of viral latency and the recovery and optimization of the HIV-1-specific immune surveillance are major challenges to achieving such a cure. Here, we summarize recent studies addressing the mechanisms underlying the viral latency and define two categories of viral reservoir: 'shallow' and 'deep'. We also present the current strategies and recent advances in the development of a functional cure for HIV-1, focusing on full/partial replacement of the immune system, 'shock and kill', and 'permanent silencing' approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents* / classification
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / pharmacology
  • Disease Management
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / immunology
  • HIV Infections* / virology
  • HIV-1* / drug effects
  • HIV-1* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Virus Latency* / drug effects
  • Virus Latency* / physiology


  • Anti-HIV Agents