Scientists recently evaluated for the first time exactly how antiretroviral therapy (ART) changes HIV dissemination and infection within the reproductive tracts of women.
Researchers based at the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine have demonstrated that there is a 93 percent protection rate against secondary heterosexual transmission after the patients with HIV accepted early ART.
"Your CD8 T cells, which are supposed to protect you, are not arriving in the female reproductive tract in time," Dr. J. Victor Garcia, study co-author and a professor of medicine in the Center for AIDS Research at UNC, said. "When we think about potential vaccines against HIV, this is important information to have."
This study is important for future preventions, treatments and studies concerning HIV.
"Once ART was introduced into our models, the number of infected cells in the female reproductive tract and cervicovaginal secretions vastly decreased," Dr. Angela Wahl, study co-author and an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC School of Medicine, said. "However, even on therapy, there is still residual virus in the female reproductive tract, just not enough to transmit infection. And these remaining infected cells are persistently making HIV RNA. This has implications for cure research and indicates that the female reproductive tract could represent a potential reservoir for HIV during therapy."