Prolonged antiretroviral therapy (ART) is not likely to eradicate human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-I) infection. Here we explore the effect of therapeutic immunization in the context of ART during primary infection using the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV251) macaque model. Vaccination of rhesus macaques with the highly attenuated poxvirus-based NYVAC-SIV vaccine expressing structural genes elicited vigorous virus-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses in macaques that responded effectively to ART. Following discontinuation of a six-month ART regimen, viral rebound occurred in most animals, but was transient in six of eight vaccinated animals. Viral rebound was also transient in four of seven mock-vaccinated control animals. These data establish the importance of antiretroviral treatment during primary infection and demonstrate that virus-specific immune responses in the infected host can be expanded by therapeutic immunization.
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We thank R. Klausner, M. Klein, R. Yarchoan and R. Little for discussion; R. Pal for the SIV251 stock; C. Mclaren for Stavudine; X. Wang for making the tetramers; the ABL staff for animal care; and S. Snodgrass for editorial assistance. M.Poudyal. was supported by the National Foundation for Biomedical Research as a Clinical Research Training Program Scholar.
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