Addressing an HIV cure in LMIC

HIV-1 persists in infected individuals despite years of antiretroviral therapy (ART), due to the formation of a stable and long-lived latent viral reservoir. Early ART can reduce the latent reservoir and is associated with post-treatment control in people living with HIV (PLWH). However, even in post-treatment controllers, ART cessation after a period of time inevitably results in rebound of plasma viraemia, thus lifelong treatment for viral suppression is indicated. Due to the difficulties of sustained life-long treatment in the millions of PLWH worldwide, a cure is undeniably necessary. This requires an in-depth understanding of reservoir formation and dynamics. Differences exist in treatment guidelines and accessibility to treatment as well as social stigma between low- and-middle income countries (LMICs) and high-income countries. In addition, demographic differences exist in PLWH from different geographical regions such as infecting viral subtype and host genetics, which can contribute to differences in the viral reservoir between different populations. Here, we review topics relevant to HIV-1 cure research in LMICs, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, the region of the world bearing the greatest burden of HIV-1. We present a summary of ART in LMICs, highlighting challenges that may be experienced in implementing a HIV-1 cure therapeutic. Furthermore, we discuss current research on the HIV-1 latent reservoir in different populations, highlighting research in LMIC and gaps in the research that may facilitate a global cure. Finally, we discuss current experimental cure strategies in the context of their potential application in LMICs.