Researchers study progression of HIV during early stages of infection
"The events during the first few days after exposure to the virus and prior to the initial detection of virus in the blood are critical in determining the course of infection, but this period is essentially impossible to study in humans," lead author Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said. "Our study is the most comprehensive evaluation of acute HIV/SIV infection to date."
The researchers, whose work was recently published in Cell, found that the virus disseminates through the body rapidly, finding genetic material from the virus in tissue outside of the reproductive tract within one day of exposure in most monkeys. The virus also triggered a local inflammatory response that the researchers believe is suppressive to antiviral innate and adaptive immunity.
"We believe that these insights into early HIV/SIV infection will be critical for the development of interventions to block infection, such as vaccines, antibodies, microbicides and drugs," Barouch said. "The next step in this line of research is to evaluate how various interventions may impact these early events."