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Study Sparks Hope For HIV Cure

Researchers say it's too soon to talk about a cure for AIDS, but they are guardedly excited about the results of a new drug therapy designed to completely rid the body of HIV, reports CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay.

In this new approach to the virus, three potent anti-HIV drugs are combined with an immune system stimulant known as interluekin-2 (IL-2).

Until now, doctors have been unable to destroy dormant HIV cells hiding throughout the body. In a recent study overseen by the National Institutes of Health, 14 HIV-positive men were given this treatment over a period of 39 months.

Currently, all 14 have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood. In three of the men, the virus could not even be found in their blood cells, suggesting that it had been completely flushed from their bodies.

Richard Shaw is one of those three patients.

"My best hope is that it is completely gone from my system, that I won't have to take the drugs again, that I don't have to worry about dying any time soon," Shaw says.

Doctors are still uncertain whether IL-2 can flush out all of the hidden virus, since it is possible for HIV cells to hide in places like the brain, testes, or gut. To find out those answers, patients in the study will soon stop treatment so that researchers can see if the virus returns.

Reported By Dr. Emily Senay.

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