Preventing HIV infection without targeting the virus: how reducing HIV target cells at the genital tract is a new approach to HIV prevention.
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For over three decades, HIV infection has had a tremendous impact on the lives of individuals and public health. Microbicides and vaccines studies have shown that immune activation at the genital tract is a risk factor for HIV infection. Furthermore, lower level of immune activation, or what we call immune quiescence, has been associated with a lower risk of HIV acquisition. This unique phenotype is observed in highly-exposed seronegative individuals from different populations including female sex workers from the Pumwani cohort in Nairobi, Kenya. Here, we review the link between immune activation and susceptibility to HIV infection. We also describe a new concept in prevention where, instead of targeting the virus, we modulate the host immune system to resist HIV infection. Mimicking the immune quiescence phenotype might become a new strategy in the toolbox of biomedical methods to prevent HIV infection. Clinical trial registration on clinicaltrial.gov: #NCT02079077.
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