Not all trials are conclusive or yield the results that scientists expect but everyday brings us closer to an HIV cure. Indeed, they still provide insight into matters not yet fully understood. That was certainly the case in a study recently conducted. The study took the results taken from two separate HIV vaccine trials and examined them together. The findings helped researchers determine what factors could lead to poorer patient outcomes on a clinical level. Both trial outcomes were compared to see how initial infection and viral characteristics could possibly be used to foresee the success of a patient’s treatment. While the study failed to be definitive, it has led scientists to look at matters in a different light.

The Results of the Study

HIV-1 on its own would establish, early on in the infection, its viral population. Once set, it generally remains constant. The patient is tested for viral load. Within a short time from the time of infection, this viral load can become relatively stable. This leads to a good prognosis for those pursuing treatment therapies. Outcomes begin to vary, however, as the viral population varies. When there is more than one viral variant, the colony becomes complex. This makes it unstable. Those who present with HIV infection but have multiple viral variants, usually have higher viral loads. It is easier for clinicians to predict a homogeneous population of the virus when compared to the alternative. These one-variant communities follow the step-by-step progression of the disease in a way that makes treatment more effective.

On the other hand, the unpredictability of variant viral populations can be tricky to treat. By comparing previous studies, it is hoped that what determines the variants, and how the host and virus interact in the initial phases of infection, will come to the fore. Being able to have a clearer picture of viral population workings and how it relates to the host’s response (especially during the early stages) could prove invaluable. Researchers expect that, upon learning the answers to these questions, a better strategy against the viral infection can be formulated, hopefully in vaccine form and later into an HIV cure.