Breakthrough On How
Some Seem Immune To HIV

From Jan Lamprecht

Note - People almost never discuss whether there is a racial component to AIDS. Back in 2000, I remember reading of two studies by scientists which stated that white people might be less susceptible to AIDS than say blacks. The one report I read said that in a survey done in Europe 9-11% of white people were found to be immune to AIDS. I think the one study was published in Scientific American. I have a suspicion that black people in Africa have a higher incidence of AIDS because of: (a) Sexual practises (b) Genetics. That's my own personal view.
I should say though, that there are black prostitutes in South Africa who are also immune to AIDS and they have been closely studied as well. It is from such sources that science may yet find a cure/treatment. --Jan
PARIS - French and Vietnamese researchers believe they have shed light on one of the big puzzles of the Aids pandemic: how some lucky individuals never become infected by HIV even if they are chronically exposed to the virus.
One of the secrets of this remarkable protection lies in so-called natural killer (NK) cells, which are part of the body's first line of defence against microbial invasion, they report in December's issue of an American publication, The Journal of Immunology.
Levels of NK were far higher among Vietnamese intravenous drug users who show no sign of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) despite long years of exposure to it, the study said.
NK cells, the authors believe, can destroy fellow immune cells that have been infected by the virus and they may also be able to secrete molecules that inhibit HIV infection in the first place.
The study, led by Gianfranco Pancino and Daniel Scott-Algara of the Retrovirus Biology Unit at the Pasteur Institute, compared NK cell functions among 37 long-term, at-risk drug users who had been uninfected; 10 drug users who were infected; and 28 blood donors who had not been exposed to the virus.
Between five and 15% of people in "at risk" groups of contracting HIV - other than intravenous drug users, these groups are prostitutes and people who engage in regular unprotected sex with an infected individual - appear to have innate immunity against the virus.
The phenomenon first came to light in the 1990s among a now-celebrated group of Kenyan prostitutes.
In a press statement, the Pasteur Institute said it was likely that "multiple factors" played a part in such immunity, not just NK cells.
These factors include resistance to HIV replication within CD4 immune cells as well as a mutation, so far found only among Caucasians, in a receptor on immune cells that may make these cells tougher for the virus to infiltrate.
Even so, the institute said, the findings on the role of NK cells were deeply significant.
Figuring out how NK cells are able to shield out the virus could eventually open up "new and unexpected therapeutic strategies" in the hunt for an HIV vaccine.
According to an updated estimate issued on Tuesday by UNAids and the World Health Organisation (WHO) around 40 million people are living with HIV or Aids today, an increase of some five million over 2002.
In the 22-year documented history of Aids, only one candidate vaccine, Aidsvax, has been through the long and costly three-phase process of testing on humans for safety and effectiveness. That trial was conducted mainly in the United States and Thailand and concluded this year, in failure.,,2-7-659_1451333,00.html




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