A new study on HIV gives reason for pause, showing that the virus can behave more insidiously than previously known.
After examining 72 HIV positive adult males in San Francisco, researchers found that the virus can infiltrate the central nervous system and settle in the brain as early as 4 months after infection. In turn, the brain-based HIV can genetically mutate and—if left untreated—could lead to neurological damage.
In order to find a cure for HIV, scientists will need to consider “tissue-based reservoirs” such as the brain and other organs, says Carl Dieffenbach, director of HIV/AIDS research at NIAID. Drug cocktails should be designed to penetrate the central nervous system, in order to curtail the virus from taking root there.