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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 515962, 12 pages
Review Article

HIV RNA Suppression and Immune Restoration: Can We Do Better?

1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Clinical and Molecular Biomedicine, University of Catania, Catania 95125, Italy
2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA

Received 15 November 2011; Revised 2 January 2012; Accepted 15 January 2012

Academic Editor: Carlo Torti

Copyright © 2012 Marilia Rita Pinzone et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.