Dr. Kathleen Collins of the University of Michigan and her colleagues report in this week's edition of the journal Nature Medicine that the HIV virus can infect long-lived bone marrow cells that eventually convert into blood cells.
The virus is dormant in the bone marrow cells, she said, but when those progenitor cells develop into blood cells, it can be reactivated and cause renewed infection. The virus kills the new blood cells and then moves on to infect other cells, said.
In recent years, drugs have reduced AIDS deaths sharply, but patients need to keep taking the medicines for life or the infection comes back, Dr. Collins said.
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