What are the key obstacles and challenges in long-term treatment of HIV-positive patients?
Philippe Morlat, MD, PhD: The main problem is that at the moment we do not have antiretroviral drugs that kill the virus. There are only pills that are able to make the virus latent, “calm,” but it is not killed. It means that the patients have to receive lifelong treatment. This is the main inconvenience, because there may be some side effects developing over lifetime, and it is difficult for people to take pills during many years—it is a problem of adherence.
Those are the main problems. That is why we are working now on drugs that make the virus get out of its reservoir, where it is hidden in the body, and kill it. It is called immune therapy.
We hope that immune therapy and antiretroviral drugs together will give us a way to kill the virus. But at the moment we do not know if it will work.