Current efforts toward achieving a cure for HIV are focused on developing strategies to eliminate latently infected CD4+ T cells, which represent the major barrier to virus eradication. Sensitive, precise, and practical assays that can reliably characterize and measure this HIV reservoir and can reliably measure the impact of a candidate treatment strategy are essential. PCR-based procedures for detecting integrated HIV DNA will overestimate the size of the reservoir by detecting replication-incompetent proviruses; however, viral outgrowth assays underestimate the size of the reservoir. Here, we describe the attributes and limitations of current procedures for measuring the HIV reservoir. Characterizing their relative merits will require rigorous evaluation of their performance characteristics (sensitivity, specificity, reproducibility, etc.) and their relationship to the results of clinical studies.
Marta Massanella, Douglas D. Richman