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HIV Hides From the Immune System

When HIV infects a cell, the virus can hide within the cytoplasm (the jelly-like fluid that fills the cell) or integrate into the cell’s genetic material (chromosomes). Shielded from the immune system, HIV can lie dormant in an infected cell for months or even years. These cells serve as a latent reservoir of the virus.

Antiretroviral drugs are capable of suppressing HIV, even to undetectable levels in the blood, but they cannot eliminate the virus hiding in these latent reservoirs. A key NIAID research priority is to learn how HIV establishes these latent reservoirs and to develop strategies to purge the virus from the body.


Potential hiding places for HIV
HIV can hide in the brain, lymph nodes, skin, peripheral blood, reticuloendothelial system, bone marrow, and gastrointestinal cells.



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Last Updated August 20, 2013