Research Article: Conference highlights of the 5th international workshop on HIV persistence during therapy, 6-9 December 2011, St. Maartin, West Indies

Date Published: March 12, 2012

Publisher: BioMed Central

Author(s): Mario Stevenson, Nicolas Chomont, Alain Lafeuillade.


The December 2011 5th International Workshop on HIV Persistence during Therapy addressed the issue of HIV persistence among 210 scientists from 10 countries involved in the study of HIV reservoirs and the search of an HIV cure. High quality abstracts were selected and discussed as oral or poster presentations. The aim of this review is to distribute the scientific highlights of this workshop outside the group as analyzed and represented by experts in retrovirology, immunology and clinical research.

Partial Text

The 5th international workshop on HIV persistence during therapy was held in St. Maarten from December 6-9 and featured presentations from 210 scientists representing approximately 10 countries. Since its inception, the goal of the workshop has been to provide a forum for research aimed at understanding the mechanism by which HIV-1 persists in the face of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to develop strategies with which to curtail viral persistence and accelerate the objective of viral eradication. While ART has fundamentally impacted the health of individuals living with HIV infection and effects durable suppression of plasma viral RNA to undetectable levels, current treatment regimens are unable to eradicate the virus [1]. In addition, pathogenic manifestations of HIV-1 infection are manifest despite potent viral suppression. Therefore, it is clear that we have to look beyond long-term maintenance of HIV-1 infection and ultimately develop strategies for viral eradication.

Zack et al. [33] proposed a new way to deliver anti-latency agents, like bryostatin, to cells. Following their previous success at incorporating this activator together with Nelfinavir into nanoparticles [34], they proposed to use vaults, which are cellular organelles, as transporters. Consequently, they engineered vaults to include Bryostatin and found a positive effect in vitro on reactivation of latent HIV.

Whether or not ongoing HIV replication or propagation persists during effective ART is not a new topic, but it has recently been fuelled by the in vitro demonstration that ART is quite ineffective at preventing direct HIV cell-to-cell transfer [39].

As anticipated, the 5th International Workshop on HIV Persistence led to the presentation and discussion of exciting new data from research groups working towards an HIV cure. Over the years, the control of HIV reservoirs is progressively moving from bench to bedside. The next edition of the workshop will be held in Miami, Fl, 3-6 December, 2013.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their institutions.

All the authors contributed equally to the manuscre therapeutic session. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.