What is a Latent HIV Reservoir?

From AIDSinfo.net, a program of the US Department of Health and Human Services

From PHN Issue 40, Summer/Fall 2019

Key Points

  • A latent HIV reservoir is a group of immune cells in the body that are infected with HIV but are not actively producing new HIV.
  • Finding ways to target and destroy latent reservoirs is a major challenge facing HIV researchers. Researchers are exploring different strategies for clearing out reservoirs.

What is a latent HIV reservoir?
A latent HIV reservoir is a group of immune cells in the body that are infected with HIV but are not actively producing new HIV. HIV attacks immune system cells in the body and uses the cells’ machinery to make copies of itself. However, some HIV-infected immune cells go into a resting (or latent) state. While in this resting state, the infected cells don’t produce new HIV. HIV can hide out inside these cells for years, forming a latent HIV reservoir. At any time, cells in the latent reservoir can become active again and start making more HIV.

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