A study was performed to determine why HIV is able to evade the efforts of current HIV treatments and persist in the body. This study will lead to improved HIV prevention. Let’s look at a breakdown of the HIV genetic code and what researchers found which may eventually lead to better treatments.

Researchers understand the way HIV spreads within the body. In order for HIV to enter a host cell, there is a sort of viral envelope. This envelope contains two glycoprotein molecules that have been named gp41 and gp120. The gp120 molecule has been further studied and broken down into sections that have been labelled with either a C or a V and the numbers 1 through 5.

In turn, this genetic code tells the virus to use the R5 receptor to enter a CD4 immune cell. This entry point is the focus of most HIV drugs. However, in about half of patients the virus will avoid using the R5 entry point and switch to the X4 receptor. This change results in a worsening of the disease and difficulty treating HIV with currently available medications.

Previous research made it seem that the gp120’s V3 region was the part that was solely responsible for this change and progression in how the disease spreads within the body. While the V3 region does clearly play a role, a minute genetic change in the gp120’s C2 region also comes into play. This genetic change, though slight, could prove to be an important discovery for researchers.

Now, it is up to researchers to figure out how to put this knowledge to use in combating HIV’s ability to progress despite treatment. It is hoped that the additional knowledge as to how the disease changes which receptor it focuses on will result in finding ways to predict progression and find a way to develop better means for HIV prevention and treatment.