In a stunning turnaround, top HIV/AIDS researchers now say an AIDS cure is possible.

Hopes for an AIDS cure were dashed early in the epidemic when researchers realized that the virus can lurk inside dormant cells to avoid elimination by powerful anti-HIV drugs.

"Today we have new information that makes us think an HIV cure should be possible," said HIV co-discoverer Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Ph.D.

Barre-Sinoussi and other leading AIDS researchers today open a two-day conference, "Towards an AIDS Cure," in advance of next week's International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. It's the most optimistic opening of an AIDS conference since the discovery that a combination of HIV drugs could keep a person from developing AIDS.

Now these researchers want to go a step further. They believe it's possible to totally eradicate HIV from the body -- or, failing that, to achieve a "functional cure" that will keep a person AIDS-free without the need for HIV drugs despite lingering HIV in the body.

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