HAART has significantly changed the natural history of HIV infection: patients receiving antiretrovirals are usually able to control viremia, even though not all virological responders adequately recover their CD4+ count. The reasons for poor immune restoration are only partially known and they include genetic, demographic and immunologic factors. A crucial element affecting immune recovery is immune activation, related to residual viremia; indeed, a suboptimal virological control (i.e., low levels of plasma HIV RNA) has been related with higher levels of chronic inflammation and all-cause mortality. The sources of residual viremia are not yet completely known, even though the most important one is represented by latently infected cells. Several methods, including 2-LTR HIV DNA and unspliced HIV RNA measurement, have been developed to estimate residual viremia and predict the outcome of antiretroviral therapy. Considering that poor immunologic responders are exposed to a higher risk of both AIDS-related and non-AIDS-related diseases, there is a need of new therapeutic strategies, including immunomodulators and drugs targeting the latent viral reservoirs, in order to face residual viremia but also to "drive" the host immunologic responses.
Pinzone, Marilia Rita; Di Rosa, Michelino; Cacopardo, Bruno; and Nunnari, Giuseppe, "HIV RNA suppression and immune restoration: can we do better?" (2012). Department of Microbiology and Immunology Faculty Papers. Paper 29.