AIDS Virus Found to Hide in Bone Marrow

Erin Ennis

Since 1981, the HIV and AIDS viruses have plagued the world. Considered to be incurable, the HIV virus mutates at an indiscernible rate into the AIDS virus, moving quickly in some and slowly in others. Once fully developed, the HIV virus turns into the AIDS virus, an immune system destroyer. However, research has been done that suggests a cure could be on the way: if special, hiding portions of the virus can be destroyed.

Up until now, it had been assumed that the HIV virus and AIDS virus worked in specific, determined ways. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) rapid viral replication and infection of specific types of white cells leads to the infiltration of HIV. As white counts drop, HIV transitions into the AIDS virus. There are periods of latency, both before and during this transition, that have been questioned by doctors for years. Where does the HIV virus go when patients are experiencing “remission” symptoms? When does the HIV  virus start to replicate?

According to new research, Dr. Kathleen Collins of the University of Michigan has found evidence that the virus that causes AIDS can hide in a patient’s bone marrow.

Practically undetectable, HIV in the bone marrow can grow without any consequence. This slow growing HIV can become the AIDS virus and mutate into the body very quickly, making it nearly unstoppable by medications and causing quick illnesses.

Dr. Collins also says this “dormant” HIV virus can cause problems for already recovering patients. It is well known throughout the scientific community that, if stopped in time, the HIV virus can be halted from becoming AIDS. A long regiment of lifetime drugs can aid a patient in staying healthier for longer, even potentially forever. This new, dormant style of HIV can live in the bone marrow long after “recovery” has occurred and can strike patients who slowly start taking less medication.

While this new discovery does little to set back research on the battle against AIDS, it also does little to take a step forward. Doctors and researchers have hoped for years that a cure for the AIDS/HIV epidemic would come soon. This new bone marrow hidden HIV evidence suggests that long term cures are still a long way off. Dr. Collins however, has hope, “If we are ever going to find a way to get rid of the cells, the first step is to understand.”