HIV infects and damages the immune system. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) restores health and life expectancy for HIV-infected individuals and global efforts to increase access to ART have led to a substantial fall in AIDS deaths and new infections.
However, ART does not clear HIV from the body and is still unavailable to millions of people. HIV is able to gain a foothold because it evades immune responses from the earliest stages of infection, while simultaneously seeding long-lived target cells (CD4+ T cells) in which it can remain dormant for many years.
Consequently, patients need to take antiretroviral drugs for life. The goal of our research is to develop vaccines and immune-based therapies to improve control of HIV and ultimately, clear infection.