Alfred infectious disease experts hope a new trial will reveal a way to wipe out HIV once and for all.
The research, led by The Alfred, Monash University and Burnet Institute, is part of a global effort to find a cure for the virus, which was the focus at the recent International AIDS Conference in Washington.
About 20 HIV-positive patients in Victoria will be among the first in the world to test the ability of a drug to "wake up" the virus in cells where it hides and lies dormant, away from the reach of current antiretroviral drugs.
A major discovery by The Alfred's director of infectious diseases, Professor Sharon Lewin, and her team, revealed the most complete picture of the virus and how it maintains its infectious grip on the body, pointing to a new way on how to combat it.
Sharon's team identified "latency", or how the virus "rests", in infected cells and stops replicating remaining out of reach from conventional HIV therapies, but still able to "wake up" when a person stops treatment.
Speaking at the conference, Sharon said: "Understanding how the virus achieves this should speed up the development of new and more potent treatments for HIV that could possibly block the virus from establishing latency while also targeting its more active presence in the body".
Results of the trial are expected later this year.