According to the Daily Telegraph, researchers at Denmark's Aarhus University Hospital believe they are "within months" of a breakthrough that could lead to an affordable cure for the millions of people living with the disease.
The scientists' technique involves flushing the HIV from "reservoirs" in human DNA to the surface of cells. With the help of a separate vaccine, the human body would then be able to kill the virus with its own immune system.
“I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV," said Aarhus University research team member Dr Ole Søgaard, who remained optimistic but cautious about the potential results.
“The challenge will be getting the patients’ immune system to recognise the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems," he added.
So far, the technique has only been successful on human cells in a laboratory, but 15 patients with HIV are currently participating in trials funded by $2 million from the Danish Research Council.
The welcome news is part of a recent string of successes in HIV/AIDS research. In January, Australian scientists said they had discovered a strategy that could make the virus "self-destruct." In March, U.S. researchers at Johns Hopkins "functionally cured" a baby with HIV by pumping the infant with antivirals immediately after birth.