But sometimes the evolving virus can unlock a response that holds HIV in check. Levy told Brothers he had a drop of luck in his blood. His white blood cells seemed to secrete tiny amounts of a substance that controls HIV. At the time, Brothers was only one of several hundred people, out of tens of millions with HIV, known to control HIV in this way. Levy believes an unidentified protein is responsible, and isolating and harnessing it might allow scientists to produce a revolutionary HIV treatment.
Fourteen adults have also been "functionally cured" after they were given combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for their HIV infection. [Warning: autoplay] They have been able to stop taking the treatment while still keeping their infection under control, according to a new study in the journal PLOS Pathogens.There is an important distinction between 'functionally cured' and 'HIV negative'. [more inside]
Researchers have apparently found a way to prevent HIV from damaging the immune system. Johns Hopkins and Imperial reseachers have developed a chemical that breaks down the cholesterol membrane around HIV. This stops the virus intererfering with immune response, and may allow a vaccine that prevents infection. [more inside]
Are the Rules That Determine Who Can Donate Blood Discriminatory? Canadian AIDS researchers Dr. Mark Wainberg and Dr. Norbert Gilmore say that while the ban on blood donation from men who have sex with other men may have been ethically and scientifically justified in the 1980's, it no longer makes sense. (CMAJ.) Even though the US FDA reaffirmed their long-standing ban in 2007, they plan to revisit the policy in June. [more inside]
A new HIV vaccine is showing promising results, reducing the risk of contracting the virus by 32 percent. While further tests are still needed, the vaccine is a combination failed HIV vaccines AIDSVAX and ALVAC, based on the Canary Pox virus. The study itself faced criticism from the outset.
Luc Montagnier, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Harald zur Hausen take the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discoveries of the AIDS virus and HPV, respectively. Take that Gallo.
New Scientist reports today that inhabitants of the former Roman Empire have much lower levels of a gene variant that protects against the virus that causes AIDS - CCR5-Delta32 to be exact. Previously, this genetic mutation had been attributed to the spread of the Black Death.
It is estimated that due to an infected polio vaccine, 10 million to 30 million people in the United States from 1955 through early 1963 were inadvertently exposed to live Simian Virus #40, a pathogen linked to various cancers. If it happened before, maybe it happened again. Perhaps AIDS was just another accidental contamination originating in an American lab - this time a hepatitis vaccine gone wrong. Why assume conspiracy Dr Cantwell?
The Nata village blog - "A unique opportunity to witness the battle to control the spread of HIV/AIDS in an African village."
A quick HIV test is about to hit the US market. An HIV test that is easy to administer and provides results in 20 minutes has just been approved by the FDA. This is a big deal partly because almost 250,000 Americans are infected and don't know it. The ease of this fast-response test will help identify some of them.
HIV Can Persist in Rectum During Drug Treatment "The lining of the rectum may contain a significant reservoir of HIV even when drugs are holding down blood levels of the virus, results from a small study show. The findings suggest that HIV in the mucosal membrane of the rectum "might constitute a considerable obstacle" to the complete suppression of a patient's infection, according to the report.'' In a related study, women were found to have high levels of HIV in their genital tracts even when they had good control of their serum levels of HIV.
Today is World AIDS Day, and to commemorate this event (and the day without art and day without weblogs), I'll be posting AIDS/HIV-related links and I ask you all to do the same. A good information resource for today is the CDC's FAQ on AIDS. And I bet you've never seen the virus' life cycle before.