A study published by scientists from California University in the Journal of Virology has showed that HIV treatment needs re-evaluation. Scientist have discovered that the virus evaded the action of antiretroviral therapy (ARV) by hiding in intestinal tissue of patients, where it continued to replicate and suppress the immune system, even though blood samples showed that the antiretrovirals were working.
Professor Satya Dandekar, head of the University's Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, who led the study has said that treatment should be focused more on improving the gut mucosa, as gut mucosa accounted for 70% of the body's immune system, and that the real battle between the virus and affected individual is taking place there immediately after the infection.
The study also revealed that in patient with chronic infection the gut acted as a viral reservoir making the restoration of gut mucosal immune system tougher and longer than when diagnosed earlier and treated with ARV and anti-inflammatory drugs. The study urges gut biopsies in all patients receiving treatment to monitor their condition.
Thomas Prindiville, Gastroenterology professor and co-author of the study, has said that starting the treatment earlier helps restore the guts immune response and accelerates recovery.
The scientists observed that in patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) within weeks of exposure the recovery of the gut immune system was better than in patients with chronic infection.