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WASHINGTON, DC -- Researchers report that AIDS drug cocktails may be able to fully restore the immune systems of some people infected with HIV.Immune cells known as CD4 T-cells returned to normal levels in an ideal group of patients, picked because they responded optimally to a combination of at least three AIDS drugs, Reuters reports.The human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, ravages the immune system and leaves people vulnerable to infections that can be fatal.The study involved 1,835 HIV-infected people drawn from a larger study involving more than 14,000 patients from across Europe, Israel and Argentina."I think it's very encouraging that if people can respond to treatment well enough and can suppress the virus for long enough, we have sufficient evidence to say their CD4 counts can return to normal," Dr. Amanda Mocroft of Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview."Our previous understanding was that there was a plateau in CD4 counts so that CD4 counts would stop increasing after a sufficiently long time taking combination therapy," she added.Mocroft said not all HIV patients respond as well to these drugs."This is sort of the best-case scenario, if you like, that we can identify a group of patients who we would expect to have a normal CD4 count with sufficient treatment," Mocroft said.CD4 cells protect the body from infection but HIV targets the cells and use them to create more copies of the virus, thus undermining the immune system.Even though the body replaces the damaged cells, it is unable to make enough and the body's immune system becomes increasingly weakened.Existing drugs does not eradicate the virus but they are able to keep it at extremely low levels in some people when given in the right combination.More than 40 million people have been infected by the virus globally, and more than 25 million have died.
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