The discovery of a new HIV receptor could see alternative HIV/AIDS treatments being trialled in Australia within the next three years.

The human receptor that causes HIV to move towards the gut, its main site for replication, has been identified by a leading group of US scientists.

The discovery offers new avenues to HIV/AIDS researchers as well as new treatment possibilities for long-term HIV sufferers including the possible use of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri to block the receptor.

Positive Life spokesperson Rob Lake said the discovery was encouraging for the future of HIV treatments.

This reinforces our optimism about the continuing improvement to treatment options, particularly for people who are experiencing resistance, he said.

Though it should be remembered that the research about drugs that specifically target it is still some way off.

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Executive Director, Don Baxter, agreed.

Of course this is good news, but we need to be careful to remember that it could be five to 10 years before new drugs start to be developed, he said.

One of the good things for HIV sufferers here though is that it is likely that Australia would participate as one of the drug trial countries.

Thanks to the international reputation of the NCHECR [National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research] and the really good relationship they have been able to establish between researchers and the community, Australia is seen as a leading choice for new treatment trials.

It could take up to two years to plan a trial and another year to enrol people, so my rough guess would be that we could see some people receiving treatment in about the next three years.

In spite of the wait involved, Lake said the new progressions in research would be met positively.

Last year’s international AIDS Society Conference in Sydney highlighted a lot of activity, and some significant successes in expanding treatment options, he said.

To some extent, in recent times we have heard some of the best and most promising news we have had in a decade.

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