For the longest time, there has been a lingering question on the minds of those working to develop a cure for HIV: how does one know for certain whether a person has been cured? The human immunodeficiency virus has the tendency to lie dormant and undetectable in immune cells and only the most time- and money-consuming tests can detect them.
However, in a recent breakthrough, a team of scientists at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburg announced that they have managed to develop a test that is reportedly sensitive enough to spot the hidden virus. They claim that this new Pitt test is less expensive, less labor-intensive, and faster than even the existing “gold standard” test. Moreover, the test reveals that compared to previous estimates, the amount of HIV lying dormant in patients who seem to be almost cured of the disease is actually 70 times more.
Need for Sensitive and Practical Tests to Detect HIV Cure
Vice chair and professor at the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Pitt Public Health and senior author of the research – Phalguni Gupta, Ph.D., said that there have been continuous and aggressive efforts across the globe to treat and cure people of HIV and scientists have been working toward finding multiple ways of eradicating this disease as it continues to persist in patients. However, she says that unless there are tests to actually find out whether or not the patient has been cured for real, these efforts will not show any progress.
The TZA test developed by Gupta’s team produces results in a shorter period of time and at a lower cost compared to the only effective test presently available – Q-VOA or the quantitative viral outgrowth assay. The TZA test is also less labor intensive and requires lesser amount of blood.