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Millions of HIV patients have been given a ray of hope after scientists moved one step closer to a cure.
Currently, the AIDS-causing virus can hide away at 'undetectable' levels in immune cells and avoid being killed off - meaning a patient can never be considered cured.
Researchers - Virus - Immune - System - Medication
But researchers have successfully managed to force the virus to reactivate, leaving it vulnerable to the immune system and medication.
The team used a drug called AZD5582 - which forces open cellular pathways in the immune system - to 'shock and kill' the hiding virus.
Researchers - Virus - Slew - Side - Effects
Researchers were worried the reactivated virus would trigger a slew of nasty side effects on the host.
But to their surprise, the drug was a success and caused almost no negative health outcomes. The drug was only tested on animals.
Presence - Drugs - Work - Virus - Replicating
It worked even in the presence of antiretroviral drugs, which work by stopping the virus replicating in the body.
Patients are given the drugs to allow the immune system to repair itself and prevent further damage after infection.
Researchers - Universities - North - Carolina - Emory
Researchers at the universities of North Carolina and Emory in Atlanta - behind the latest studies - said the findings were 'unprecedented'.
Medical advances over the past four decades mean patients with HIV can have unprotected sex without fear of passing it on.
Goal - Cure - Virus - People - Scientists
But the ultimate goal of discovering a cure for the virus, estimated to strike 37million people worldwide, has so far eluded scientists.
Even in patients deemed to have an 'undetectable' count of the virus, there are still traces of HIV effectively sleeping inside their bodies.
Viruses - System - Medicines - HIV
These are called latent viruses and don't cause illness but cannot be destroyed by the immune system or medicines, making HIV impossible to get rid of.
But when these latent viruses come to life and try to attack the body, they come out of hiding and the immune system and drugs...
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