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New clues found to symptom-free HIV
November 5th, 2010
02:38 PM ET

New clues found to symptom-free HIV

There's still no vaccine for HIV, but researchers have made inroads in discovering new clues to why a minority of infected people can carry the virus without symptoms.

Only about one in 300 people infected appear to have an immune system that can naturally suppress the virus's replication, and thus they carry low levels of the virus, the study said. Specific genetic variations may be responsible for this uncommon response to HIV, this study published in the journal Science found.

"This tells us that the immune system is definitely involved in people getting infected and not progressing," said study co-author Dr. Florencia Pereyra, who established International HIV Controllers Study, which has enrolled more than 1,500 people with HIV who have shown a natural ability to control the virus. "It really helps us focus a lot of research."

In this study, an international team of researchers looked at the genome of nearly 1,000 "controllers" - people who can naturally control the virus in their system - and 2,600 individuals with progressive HIV infections.

They found that there are small variants in a protein called HLA-B that may be response for the ability to control the virus well. In people with particular differences in five components of this protein, called amino acids, the immune response against HIV is stronger.

Here's how Pereyra explains it: Imagine that there's a factory worker who grabs a piece of the virus, shows it out the window and says, “Hey, there’s this virus in here." That's the cue for the immune system to come in and attack. The hand of the factory worker represents the HLA molecule in this analogy.

In people who have specific differences in the "hands," their T-cells, blood cells that protect against infections, appear to stop the virus from following the destructive course seen in most HIV-positive people. Some have lived symptom-free for more than 30 years, and take no medications whatsoever to combat HIV.

In some, called "elite controllers," the virus cannot be detected in traditional HIV tests. But the virus's signature is still present

The discovery about genetics suggests that the immune system can be manipulated to make infected individuals control HIV better, but "we are still a little bit far from being able to apply this to a vaccine or even a therapy," Pereyra said.

"It’s just a step forward and we’re definitely going in the right direction," Pereyra said.


soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Travis

    about time

    November 5, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tmc

      Manipulating the immune system to produce specific protiens has been a mainstay of cancer research. You'd think that ship already sailed since companies are more interested in synthetic reproduction of protiens than letting the body do it's own work. Perhaps harvesting compatible stem cells from the super resistent dna (whom are not infected) will lead to a breakthrough. With every step forward, there is a potential step backward.. does this dna have risks, are they more suseptible to other diseases? Are these people with higher than normal lifepans? What is the relationship between the immune system and the aging process? Does reprogramming the immune system lead to a breakthrough of resetting the clock on dna cell replication?

      November 6, 2010 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • bob

      tmc, the idea is not to give everyone DNA that expresses the protein, DNA which may come with other problems as you said, the idea will be to manufacture a precursor protein that mirrors the effects of the expressed DNA and will get the body to produce it's own HIV aggressive helper cells. targeting infected people this way would stop transmission and would require no genetic modification or vaccination for future generations.

      July 23, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
  2. Travis

    AMEN! (different travis). Lets get this disease gone! Lord I mean if they can cure Polio we sure can sure this!!!!!!!

    November 5, 2010 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Suzanne

      Polio is an infection.
      HIV is a virus.

      November 5, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Suzanne, polio is a virus too. HIV is actually a retrovirus, RNA encoding, whereas Polio is a DNA virus.
      BOTH are viral infections within the context of this article.

      November 5, 2010 at 18:50 | Report abuse |
    • Bennett

      Wzrd1 – polio's an RNA virus too [pedant]

      November 5, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse |
    • warsteiner

      Unfortunately there are still no cures for Viruses. The best that we can hope for is suppression that's it

      November 6, 2010 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
    • Clutzycook

      Not as much money in curing it as there is in selling drugs that will keep it at bay for 20+ years at overly inflated prices.

      November 6, 2010 at 21:45 | Report abuse |
    • Blessed Geek

      Humans are a virus that infected the planet. Oh no, we are a retro-eco-virus. We invade regions of the planet, then adapt ourselves into each particular region and then multiply as natives of the region. We fool the defence of the planet into believing that we are there to protect the planet.

      November 6, 2010 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
    • tauntobr

      LOL Suzanne, you made me laugh!

      November 7, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
  3. twr2422

    I don't think they will ever produce a vaccine...It will mean the end to Billions of dollars to the GREEDY pharmasutical companies. I pray that it will come but how many 'cures' have we seen in the last 30-40 years...only medications!

    November 5, 2010 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JEM

      This is a failure of the government; not greedy corporations.

      November 5, 2010 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • craig

      Well if you get HIV make sure to not take any of "Big Pharma's" medicine. Go the Christine Maggiore way!

      November 5, 2010 at 18:55 | Report abuse |
    • rico

      yeh a failure of government. you're probably also someone who says government is too intrusive and capitalism is god's gift to economics

      November 5, 2010 at 19:52 | Report abuse |
    • ThomasCBraxton

      er-ah... the vaccine will also be worth billions and will probably be a mandatory immunization for all newborns. An by the

      November 5, 2010 at 21:28 | Report abuse |
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      Nonsense. If vaccine becomes available, it will be one of the most profitable products for the pharmaceutical industry.

      November 5, 2010 at 23:10 | Report abuse |
    • queeney

      You are SO right and this is true of every ailment, disease, and plague known to man. Have you noticed there hasn't been a 'cure' for anything in the last 40 years?

      November 6, 2010 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      To Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA- nonsense. Currents medicines are far more profitable than a vaccine would be. HIV infected individuals rely on these medicines daily for the rest of their lives. Thats huge, immense, piles of money. A vaccine would be big money, but minuscule by comparison, as someone would only need it once.

      November 6, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Maribeth

      Yes a vaccine would be a once in a life (possibly) solution and pharmacueutical companies might reap the benefits of long term chemical intervention. However, if a vaccine were to be discovered billions of people would be vaccinated making the companies a huge amount of money in the short run increasing their stock profits. Stock profits aren't truly based on the long run they go from quarter to quarter. So I think the pharmacuetical companies are indeed actively looking for a vaccine. Plus you have to look at the bragging rights.

      November 7, 2010 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • yogi

      i can tell you that a 3 month supply of meds is roughly $4000.00. That's $12,000 p/year. If a person lives for 20 years on their meds thats $240,000.00!

      November 7, 2010 at 11:13 | Report abuse |
  4. cooper

    In some, called "elite controllers," the virus cannot be detected in traditional HIV tests. But the virus's signature is still present

    So can these "elite controllers" who test negative to traditional HIV tests unknowingly pass on HIV?

    November 5, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Nope. Their bodies inactivate the virus. Just like our bodies inactivate dozens of other virii. Chickenpox, Epstein-Barr, CMV, etc.

      November 5, 2010 at 18:52 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      It says the signature is still present, not the virus. All of us who have had chicken pox or a flu vaccine have the virus' signature floating around in us.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • HIVMF

      You are all wrong. Elite controllers can definitely pass the virus to a partner through the same means anyone else can. The 'signature' the authors are referring to is not the antibodies but the Western Blot test which indicates evidence of ACTIVE living ongoing viremia in those elite controllers. They just have lower viral loads than the 'normal' patient.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:24 | Report abuse |
    • Bennett

      HIVMF – the Western Blot detects antibodies too. They may be referring to something like DNA viral load (detects provirus in cells, rather than free virus in the bloodstream) or virus culture.

      November 5, 2010 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
    • Katherine

      From what I've read, it does seem as if elite controllers can still pass on the virus to others.

      November 5, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse |
    • HIVMD

      Bennet,

      Wrong. The Western Blot has NOTHING to do with antibodies. Look it up before you post. You'll look a lot smarter.

      November 6, 2010 at 07:46 | Report abuse |
    • alittlevoice

      This hiv western directly tests for patient antibody to viral antigen in serum. Viral proteins are separated by sds-page and transferred to nitrocellulose membranes. Test laboratories receive the strips, load patient serum, load conjugated antihuman secondary and detect with a colorimetric substrate. The presence of bands indicates the presence of patient antibody against the viral proteins.

      November 6, 2010 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • alittlevoice

      yes, these "elite controllers" could possibly pass the infection to others. The viral load is small but present. If serum antibodies against viral proteins are low due to the body's maintenance of low viral load, then the limits of the western blot and other traditional (ELISA) tests will be tested – so to speak. From my understanding, the viremia that the authors are suggesting is the presence of cellular proviral DNA load (presence of viral DNA by pcr-based assay), and high cd4+ and cd8+ cell counts.

      November 6, 2010 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
  5. JEM

    The reason we don't have an AIDS vaccine is because the CDC is in charge.
    Turn the job over to private enterprise and see what happens

    "http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1997-11-16/news/9711160401_1_potential-aids-vaccines-candidate-vaccines-vaccine-works"

    November 5, 2010 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnfx

      The problem has nothing to do with government or private enterprise. In fact a lot of money and effort has been spent by both kinds of organization to create an AIDS vaccine. It's just that it's pretty hard to create a vaccine that needs the same immune system in which the virus hides. The virus has evolved plenty of nifty little tricks to evade detection as well. So props to HIV for being so devilishly "smart". Give science some love too. After all, we only identified the virus in 1984. Now, only 26 years later we have made considerable progress against it. We have drugs that control it – 2 generations of drug with more on the way. And we will eventually have a vaccine. But let's not stick dumb ideologies into this issue. No one is slacking on this problem.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • E

      noone is stopping private companies from researching and finding it, they have money. What stops companies from doing such things is that they only research what will make them a profit. If they don't see dollar signs they are happy to watch you die.

      November 5, 2010 at 22:09 | Report abuse |
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      Nother nonsense. CDC is NOT in charge of developing anything. Maybe some of the NIH units try but the main burden IS on private industry. Did the Tea Baggers completely brainwashed you?

      November 5, 2010 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      Private enterprise has been working on it. They have spent MASSIVE amounts of money on this and time. There is an inherent problem with vaccination against retroviruses like HIV. I take it by "turn it over" you mean turn the pharma companies into government charity cases like the "private industry" genome projects?

      November 6, 2010 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
  6. JEM

    Here is a better site.
    The reason we don't have an AIDS vaccine is because the CDC is in charge.
    Turn the job over to private enterprise and see what happens.
    Keep in mind that developing an AIDS vaccine will cost many lives just as
    other vaccines have in the past.

    "http://www.aegis.org/news/ct/1997/CT971106.html"

    November 5, 2010 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      The CDC is NOT in charge of approvals of vaccines. Never was, never will be. That is the FDA's job.
      But, should we review when private industry wasn't regulated, especially drugs? Ever heard the term "Snake oil salesman"? It originated from drug peddlers who sold either worthless or even poisonous "miracle drugs" that cured everything in sight, from Malaria to gout. Most were alcohol, some had addictive substances in them and as I said, still others were pure poison.
      Hence, the pure food and drug act. And eventually, even coca cola had the cocaine removed from it.
      So, if it's just the same with you, I'll wait for a safe and proven vaccine, rather than a snake oil vaccine.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:04 | Report abuse |
    • E

      drug companies prefer people to be sick so they will buy more drugs. That is how capitalism works.

      November 5, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
  7. Allen N Wollscheidt

    JEM - You are crazy ! ! !

    1. Oh, yes - Private Enterprise will find a solution, but no one will be able to afford tp purchase it ! ! !
    2. Who is stopping P E from doing this, anyway ? ?
    3. Do you mean that no one else in the entire world can research a cure for HIV - Just the U S ? ?
    .

    November 5, 2010 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Loreen Willenberg

    I have waited for the mainstream press to cover the remarkable story of HIV Controllers for six long years – thank you, CNN, for doing so! It's time for the general public to understand that there is a beacon of hope shining through the darkness of HIV/AIDS, and we are called HIV Controllers (or Long-Term Nonprogressors). Despite our small number, we are all dedicated to making contributions to studies throughout the world, and do so out of a desire to help those less fortunate than we are. It's fortunate that we have scientists like Drs. Deeks, Migueles, Pereyra and Walker here in the U.S. who had the vision to conduct such a study to unlock the mysteries of our control. We thank them! Also, @cooper – We elite controllers do test positive for HIV, thus our name "HIV Controllers", and, in the first paragraph of the paper being reviewed, the authors state: "Elite controllers are less likely to transmit HIV to others."

    November 5, 2010 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Well, keep on living and keep on giving help to the researchers. This scourge needs to end soon, before we have entire continents vacant of humans!

      November 5, 2010 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
    • T.rex

      wow... toot your own horn, much? That was probably the most self-aggrandizing post i've ever read on a message board. Maybe you should make yourself a superhero costume and go into this fulltime.

      November 5, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      So far, only Africa has devastating epidemics. Not Europe or Americas, Asia has its share but nowhere we are near extinction of our species. Let's not overdo it. Malaria kills many more people (again mostly in Africa) than AIDS.

      November 5, 2010 at 23:17 | Report abuse |
    • bemitch

      To Loreen, thank you for a most informative take from someone living on the front lines of research in this horrible disease. To Trex, why so rude? These comments always deteriorate into shallow name-calling that serve NO purpose.

      November 6, 2010 at 21:21 | Report abuse |
  9. GiGi

    why can't they take the genes from those people to test and make a anti virus for the people who are dying from it? Are they working on that?

    November 5, 2010 at 18:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      The last viral gene replacement therapy patient died from the cure, literally. Hence, no approvals for such yet.
      PLUS, it'd be REAL nice to FULLY understand the functions involved, rather than just hacking around and hoping the test victim, errrr, subject survives.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
    • E

      I am sure the top scientists in the world thank you for your wisdom, after all, why would they study viruses and immunology and spend decades researching every tiny aspect of this disease when they can just read CNN.

      November 5, 2010 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
  10. God's Child too

    if that's the case, we will be punished for your ignorance too . . .

    November 5, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. GiGi

    Your an idiot! I know someone who was hedero who had sex with a hedero who gave her HIV and just passed....your ignorance hopefully along with the rest will die off.....someday

    November 5, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnfx

      That would be "hetero", but otherwise you are correct. Heterosexuals do transmit and die from AIDS. That's especially true for Africans.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:11 | Report abuse |
    • Flowers

      I think it would be better if we leave race out of it. There is no race that's safe. The rate of infections is going up in other groups of people as well. No one should harbor a false sense of security.

      November 6, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Person

      I don't believe johnfx was trying to be recist here. He was refering to Africa as being the region the most effected by transmission and lack of treatment statistically. That comes with being the poorest continent, not with being any certain race. But, your right. No race can claim immunity to this type of thing.

      November 6, 2010 at 22:35 | Report abuse |
  12. Jack

    Yup. It's definitely the government's fault – and corporations are to blame too. Never mind all the people who can't keep their peckers in their pants. It's not their fault at all. And all the skydivers who die each year? That's the government, too – for not doing something about gravity.

    November 5, 2010 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dino S.

    Next year will be a sad milestone as the AIDS Epidemic reaches its THIRTY YEAR mark. It was in May of 1981 when the Center for Disease Control first established this strange new ailment. That was followed by almost a decade of bigotry and hysteria. It took the announcement of Magic Johnson in 1991 that he was HIV Positive to change the course of this tragedy.

    November 5, 2010 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Gabor47

    Somebody wrote:"...I mean if they can cure Polio we sure can sure this!!!!!!!"

    No, we can't CURE polio. We can prevent it with immunization. In fact, mankind yet to invent a CURE for any disease caused by a virus. Not even common cold. As a physician, I told back in the 80s, that the optimism related to AIDS ("..no problem, we will come up with a cure in a decade or so....") was totally unfounded. So was the prevention (immunization), because the HIV attacks the very immune system which is responsible for the immune reaction needed for immunization to work.

    AIDS didn't have to become an epidemic, yet it did due to human shortsightedness and due to "various politically correct view" by certain politicians.

    November 5, 2010 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HIVMD

      You don't wanna say it so I will. Ronald Reagan. Biggest homophobe/racist president ever. If you want to blame someone for allowing this to get out of control in this country, ask RR why he denied policymakers liberties to do something when it was still relatively contained.

      November 5, 2010 at 19:28 | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      You are not a very good doctor. A lot of viruses, including the flu can be cured. For example, the drugs Relenza and Tamiflu can block many strains of the influenza virus. These antiviral drugs are not given often, except in acute cases because hte flu gets taken care of by the immune system of healthy individuals. However if you don't have a good immune system you can take Tamiflu or Relenza. They work by inhibiting one of the virus' protein called Neuraminidase which is essential for influenza's replication/survival. There are other drugs that work against viruses too, in fact all you have to do is google the word antiviral and you will get a whole list of them. Actually read the wikipedia article called Antiviral drug if you are clueless about how they work.

      November 6, 2010 at 06:35 | Report abuse |
    • HIVMD

      Johan,

      You are not a very good (whatever you are). Antivirals do not cure any viruses. Your brief (and very cursory/rudimentary) understanding of how antivirals work (including Relenza etc) shows you are only marginally knowledgable about the subject. Once you've completed your years of virology/microbiology/pharmacology, then repost. I'm not here to provide you with facts that you can easily find on your own (as others have mentioned, try 'google' before you post this blather).

      November 6, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Thanks Gabor for pointing out why an HIV vaccine is so difficult to develop. I always wondered why. Totally logical though.

      Johan, you're an idiot. With about 30 seconds of "research", I can confirm HIVMD and Gabor are right. I'm not a Doctor, but I am an engineer and quite accustomed to fact checking.

      November 7, 2010 at 15:15 | Report abuse |
  15. Lori

    No money in the cure.....

    November 5, 2010 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. BlueK

    Why do articles like this always get off topic in the comments? Really, be honest...who wouldn't want a cure for HIV? Or cancer? Or whatever? Why be so hateful about HIV? Have we not yet moved past the whole, "God gave this as a punishment for homosexuality" phase of this? Any rational person knows very well that isn't true. I read my Bible, and I don't know who this mean and vengeful god is that would do something like that...but he sure isn't the one I pray to every night.

    Stop being so mean. I know that's a bit childish and lowbrow, but it is kind of the most simplistic way to say it. No disease is a "curse." Except the pharmaceutical companies getting rich off of withholding a cure (that's the curse). BTW, I make my living making those big drug companies rich...and I can tell you this...there is and has been a cure for quite some time. I'm no conspiracy nut, but I've been in plenty enough planning meetings to know what I'm talking about. Pharma will NEVER market a cure. The most you will ever get is lifelong treatment. The first thing you learn when hired to make big pharma's drugs (and by "learn" I mean they actually sit you down in a class to teach you this) is what diseases are profitable and what ones aren't. They teach you how to pick an design drugs to keep a person alive (requiring gobs of pills)...not how to cure them.

    November 5, 2010 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BlueK

      Oh, and if you don't believe me. Check out the annual budgets for HIV research of the 5 leading pharma companies. Cutting the program and scaling back research. Now, why would someone do that unless they already had accomplished their goals?

      November 5, 2010 at 20:30 | Report abuse |
    • Norm

      I don't care if they cure HIV/AIDS, cancer or whatever. Too many people as it is and ya gotta thin the herd somehow. No more flu vaccine after 75, too. Sorry grandma. Ya had a good run, but time to pack it up and head for the big nickel slots in the sky.

      November 5, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
  17. CPortScally

    Someones wallet is about to get a little fatter!

    November 5, 2010 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. T.rex

    i contend most ALL people are 'elite controllers'. HIV was fear-mongered to be deadly, just like Avian and Swine Flu. Its probably been in the human population since the dawn of man, and was never an issue until we decided to anoint it as the primary culprit in the death of a few substance abusers in the early 80's.

    November 5, 2010 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mommo

      From what I've read, this appears to be true. It's my understanding that people dying of "AIDS" in Africa are actually dying of diseases they've always had there – but AIDS comes with a fat pocketbook.

      November 5, 2010 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      Most people don't actually die of AIDS anywhere. Their immune systems are so compromised by the virus that it allows other opportune infections to kill them. These are illness that normally don't kill people.

      November 5, 2010 at 21:14 | Report abuse |
    • JJinCVCA

      @T.rex, what's the source of your claim? I learned three years ago that I tested positive for HIV, and I was not a substance abuser, anytime before, during or since. I was referred to a specialist and in those first tests my T-cell count was very low and my viral load was very high through no outward action such as substance abuse. Now, granted, I was placed on a antiretroviral drug regiment and have since flipped those numbers dramatically. I do believe that there are "elite controllers" that exist, and, admittedly, I for one can contend that there may be a possible link between the presence of the virus and stress coupled with a lack of proper nutrition and exercise. I was going through a lot of stress in the year prior to the positive test, but I certainly was not a substance abuser.

      November 6, 2010 at 06:37 | Report abuse |
    • irina

      there was a very interesting article in i think Discovery magazine a few years back about the antiquity of HIV.
      makes sense to me.

      one aspect of the virus that has NOT been discussed much is how it affects the brain; in particular the brains
      of asymptomatic carriers - a few studies done in the late eighties / early nineties showed that carriers developed very compulsive sexual behaviors with a wide variety of partners, which would make sense from the point of view of the virus
      in the interest of self-replication. naturally, these studies were not very p.c. and disappeared pretty quickly.

      one of the most vulnerable population groups is breeding females whose men are on the down-low. often those men
      are asymptomatic and don't think they have the virus. but a pregnant woman is very susceptible to infection, because
      her immune system pretty much shuts down in order to keep from rejecting the fetus. she may feel poorly anyway as a
      result of her pregnancy or the stress of caring for a newborn, and not realize that she is in actuality now sick with hiv.
      her child who is also sickly will be politically correctly diagnosed with something or other but never tested for hiv,
      and of course the father will keep his mouth shut. after all, he's not sick. . .

      November 6, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • Flowers

      You're wrong. The majority of people with HIV will start showing symptoms of a compromised immune system within a decade (will become ill.) People with AIDS often die from infections that would not have caused death, of even illness, if their immune systems had not been destroyed by HIV.

      November 6, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
  19. Norm

    Congratulations!! They discovered evolution!!

    November 5, 2010 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Melissa

    All sarcasm aside, it would be a bit foolish to blindly trust the best scientists. Although it is off-topic, let us not forget how the world's best scientists and engineers handled the BP oil spill.

    November 5, 2010 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JJinCVCA

      @Melissa... your statement does not compute. What do you mean to simply state "it would be a bit foolish to blindly trust the best scientists" without a qualifying statement? Do you mistrust science itself or do you mistrust the people that utilize science to find answers to some of the world's more complicated questions and hypotheses? Although it took longer than what most people would find comfortable or acceptable, scientists and engineers DID eventually find a solution for the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico...we had no other choice BUT to trust them. What would have been the alternative? ...A prayer to god to plug up that leak? ...A prayer to god to find a viable treatment for HIV/AIDS?

      As it stands today, scientists theorize that if someone in their 20s or early 30s becomes infected with HIV today, then begins using antiretroviral drugs that are currently on the market to treat their HIV infection, that the lifespans of these people could reach to nearly 70 years old. At this point we have no choice BUT to trust that that theory is correct, then wait to see what the reality is. Either way it takes time... and trust.

      November 6, 2010 at 07:05 | Report abuse |
    • Eric Lucas

      Yeah, you're right, Melissa. We've been trusting those darn scientists for far too long. All they ever do is ruin things. We need to start trusting 7-11 clerks to solve the world's most difficult problems. Because after all, what has ever solved a problem but pure dumb luck?

      Moron. All sarcasm aside.

      November 6, 2010 at 07:44 | Report abuse |
    • alittlevoice

      ah Melissa
      Perhaps I am foolish to keep pursuing science, too. I would like to call myself a scientist. It is the pursuit of answers to daunting questions that scientists seek. And the problem with science is that ultimately there is no proof to the problem – just a good idea. We wait for the boundaries to be tested by someone with a better method of observation. Working in scientific research has taught me a lot about failure. And all too often in science one finds a result that repudiates the hypothesis. And so we test and retest to try to solve the problem. But there are those wonderful "aha" moments that make it worthwhile. If we did not have those minds searching and researching for answers then we would not progress in our understanding of this reality. To be distrustful of scientists is to distrust the reason that leads us to our current understanding of our world.

      November 6, 2010 at 23:27 | Report abuse |
  21. fogcat

    Didn't PBS's "Secrets of the Dead" have an episode that concluded that the elite controller types had ancestors who survived the Black Plague in Europe because of a mutant gene? How about genetic engineering victims to give them this mutation?

    Oops. That would deny Big Pharma a profit cash flow. Can't have that. Silly me.

    Maybe in an ideal parallel universe people are more important than money.

    November 6, 2010 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric Lucas

      It would be nice if your cynicism about motives were based on even the faintest glimmer of understanding what you're talking about.

      November 6, 2010 at 07:47 | Report abuse |
    • LMS

      Our current methods of genetic engineering won't fix this problem for a couple of reasons. First, we would need to be able to replace the copy of the bad gene with the good (suppressive gene). The gene in this case was a receptor the virus latched onto to get into cells. If both copies were expressed by the cell, the virus would use the the "bad" receptor to get in the cell. For this to work as a therapy, the "bad" gene would need to be replaced with the "good" copy (pasted into the same) place. Our current methods of genetic engineering only insert new copies of the genes randomly (somewhat randomly) anyway throughout a person's DNA. That won't help for this problem.

      The second issue is that our current methods of genetic engineering also result in a lot of cancer. An engineered virus is used to deliver the gene to cells. The virus inserts copies of the gene into a person's DNA at random locations. While this inserts randomly, it tends to favor areas of the DNA that code for the types of genes that make cells divide which tends to result in cancers.

      November 6, 2010 at 07:58 | Report abuse |
  22. chris

    did anyone stop to think that if there is a god , this is his way of weeding us out.

    November 6, 2010 at 02:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tex in the City

      Oh, how glorious of him. You ever stop to think that if there was a god...no wait, you probably never stop to think about the topic too deeply or you would realize there isn't one.

      November 6, 2010 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
    • Flowers

      No, God wouldn't need to create AIDS to "weed people out." There are other illnesses or diseases. Also, why would a God create us, only to "weed us out." Everyone makes mistakes. A God wouldn't use illness to "punish" just for specific actions. Plus, many AIDS victims contract through no fault of their own. I can't imagine God works in any way close to what you're describing (if there's a God.)

      November 6, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • xxx

      chris, if you're right, He must have a pretty wry sense of humor, during my college and young adult years in the late '70s to early '90's, I schtupped any female I could get to hold still for it, in every way I could imagine, did every drug in the book except crack and meth and pretty much lived out a life script written in part by Pauline Reage, Alistair Crowley and D.H. Lawrence, yet I came out relatively unscathed with nothing greater than "non-specific urinary infections" and the usual bruising, scratch and bite marks. Yet I met at leat 3 people who contracted the disease and became ill by either administering or recieving medical treatment. Maybe there is just something about God that you don't know about, and it has nothing to do with your beliefs, dude.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:09 | Report abuse |
  23. Hopeful

    It is time we all get behind the dr's, scientists and researchers who are dedicating their lives and efforts towards treatments (and God willing) a cure or therapeutic vaccine for this horrible disease. Regardless of sexual preference, personal behaviors, or geography, every one of us is at risk as this virus does not discriminate, just ask the babies, transplant patients, or other "innocents" who bravely stare this in the face every. The implications of understanding and advancing these recent breakthroughs to tangible and useful treatments has a reach far and beyond HIV, and it is time we stop discriminating or laying blame, and as a society use our fear of it, our intelligence, and our resources to drive this research forward. It wasn't ignorance that led to this epidemic, it was simple biology, so let's shelve our attitudes and recognize that we're all in this thing together and focus our efforts towards making HIV/AIDS no scarier than the common cold. Easier said than done? Absolutely, but let's not forget that we've put men on the moon, sent robots to Mars and beyond, and discovered/devised numerous medical breakthroughs in the past. All of those things humans once thought impossible, but we did it. We can do this too if we put aside our preconceptions, ignorance, arrogance, apathy, etc., and focus on research that offers the potential to put this disease and others in mankind's rear view mirrors.

    November 6, 2010 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cole

      It's not really a recent breakthrough and biology differs from the other scientific achievements such as landing on the moon – For biology, it would be landing on a moon that constantly changes its orbit in an unpredictable manner. The discovery isn't all that significant, since it's just a small clue that may or may not be relevant.

      For literally every virus out there, there will be segment of the population that will be resistant to it – It's genetic diversity at work. It's the same with antibiotics – Some bacteria are simply more resistant. From there, natural selection goes to work. So, just because it helps some people doesn't mean that it can be developed to help others, or that it'll even be helpful.

      As for a vaccine, it's difficult. A vaccine still relies on the immune system, but how do you create a vaccine for a virus that targets the very immune system that's needed to fight it off? If you do something to the virus, there's a good chance you'll also do something to the immune system and its relations. We don't have a vaccine yet because it's a very unique virus.

      November 6, 2010 at 08:15 | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      I couldn't have said it better. Thank you for such a wonderful, kind and hopeful comment. :)

      November 6, 2010 at 22:37 | Report abuse |
  24. 2Lanes

    But there is an HIV vaccine. My brother, who is in the military, was given the vaccine before he deployed to Afghanistan.

    November 6, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Flowers

      I think your brother is confused about which vaccines he received, or perhaps there were people "joking around" in the clinic. I would guess he was given vaccines against smallpox and anthrax.

      November 6, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • 2Lanes

      No, no confusion. He showed me the release paperwork. It was definitely an HIV vaccine.

      November 7, 2010 at 08:55 | Report abuse |
  25. Not Suzanne

    I would like to echo DW's comments. Suzanne, your flippant remark & dismissal of an innocuous statement by wzrd makes me feel like you might be retarded. Stay off the forums girl....for yours and everyone else's sake.

    November 6, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. bouncer

    Trex / Momma - honestly you are both posting as if you are children (and I will say it....like pro homogenous republicans -with their cry of "if u aren't like me u are my enemy". Its more than that though.

    If you weren't an american, lets just say you were born in India....you would be living in a cardboard box given your display of thought, construction of argument...just a pure display of being dim. You owe cerebral, accepting and productive people like the others on this blog a lifetime of gratitude for subsidizing your collection of weaknesses and shortcomings...allowing you to purchase such things as your computer that you disseminate your low IQ with.

    Norm, hopefully you don't have a person you care deeply about die from a disease that is beatable. Clearly you haven't up to this point. I am not gay, I didn't have a lover who died of AIDS, I am simply echoing BlueK's contention of why wouldn't you be "for" the elimination of a virus that kills humans.

    Keep up the good work t.rex & momma. my issues with you are incredibly numerous.

    November 6, 2010 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Flowers

    I wish this article didn't imply that "elite controllers" don't test positive on a typical HIV Antibody test. They should have been much more specific regarding what shows up in each type of test for "elite controllers."

    November 6, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Carla

    As I mentioned 18 years ago while STILL in nursing school...I believe understanding and preventing HIV lies not within someone with an underactive immune system,,,but instead within someone who shows oversensitivity...a hyper-immune system. Therein lies the Key.

    November 6, 2010 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • HIVMD

      What you said 18 years ago makes as little sense as it does today. Therein lies reality.

      November 6, 2010 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
  29. J Mathews

    Read "Inventing the AIDS virus" by Peter Duesberg, Member of National Academy of Sciences , 1971 California Scientist of the Year. His book was foreworded by Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Karry Mullis

    November 6, 2010 at 17:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Person

    Clutzycook is absolutely right. Companies do not commit themselves to cures anymore as much as they do treatments, because there is more money in treatments. This is one of the major flaws of a private health care system. I'm not trying to start a debate here about the health care reforms, but it's true. THERE IS NO MONEY IN CURES!

    November 6, 2010 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Orum

    http://www.virusmyth.com/

    November 7, 2010 at 05:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. One Answer

    Ever heard a ladies at the opera shatter lead chrystal glasses? Viruses are also chrystaline. When a virus is subjected to this frequency just at or above human hearing, the viruses are shattered as well. This cures any and ALL viruses. This is what the Gov will not tell you. They will also not tell you there is a cure on the records at the U.S. national patient office for HIV/Aids. They inject you with electrolyte in your blood and send a little electrical charge through your blood to shatter these same virus chrystals. They wont tell you about that eather. look it up on line.

    November 7, 2010 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Krista

      Viruses are not crystalline. You have fallen for someone's idea of a joke or hoax.

      November 7, 2010 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  33. Living in Hope

    So many of these posts come from people who are on the outside looking in. My husband has lived with the virus for almost 20 years now. We found out when I was 71/2 months pregnant. (Our son and I are both negative, by the way.) The virus has never progressed to AIDS. Are we in this category? Part of me wants to know, the other part doesn't. I am just so grateful to have him alive and healthy! Our priorities are straight, we know what true love is, and we live each day as if it's our last. As my husband puts it, "Everyone faces death eventually; I just have a little bit more information."

    November 7, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Charles

    "In this study, an international team of researchers looked at the genome of nearly 1,000 "controllers" – people who can naturally control the virus in their system – and 2,600 individuals with progressive HIV infections."

    Isthe human genome completey known now? I thought it still has yet to be fully known and decoded.......

    November 7, 2010 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. JK88

    I am afraid I do not see how this discovery has any practical applications to vaccine development for HIV with current vaccine technology. Allow me to explain.

    To modify the metaphor above, think of the immune system's response to a viral attack this way: Imagine a virus rolling down a conveyor belt in a factory as the virus entering your body. One worker in the immune system sees the virus and smashes it. This worker then hands a piece of the virus to another worker (this time the worker in the original metaphor), who then proceeds to hold the piece out the window and sound the alarm. The research described here does indeed give us information about the second worker's hand – think of it as when an "elite controller" grabs the piece, his hand lights up and is easily seen by whoever he is trying to warn. This study could help us understand why his hand lights up, and normal people's hands don't.

    The difficulty, however, is that a vaccine is designed to help the first worker, not the second. Imagine a vaccine as an obnoxiously shiny and loud device with pieces of the virus stuck to it. This gets the attention of the first worker faster (not to mention without the risk of it being a real and dangerous virus!), which is certainly a good thing. He learns to identify the pieces of the virus faster, and thus finds a real virus faster. However, that first worker still just smashes the device and hands the virus pieces, which have not changed, to the second worker. You can see why learning about the second worker's hand does not necessarily go a long way in creating a shinier and louder vaccine device.

    I am not saying that this is not an interesting discovery, nor am I saying it would be impossible to find a way to link this information to novel vaccine design. I merely wanted to clarify a little about what the study was saying, and point out that with the current way vaccine technology works getting anyone's hopes up over this particular discovery is somewhat unwarranted.

    November 7, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Iknowuwell

    HIV is so stupid. its their fault of gettin it! like why the hell should we care about this shit?! its their own fault! let them treat it themselves!!!!!!!!!!

    November 7, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • xxx

      At least those infected with HIV recieve renewed hope every time their is a breakthrough, but your disease of the mind seems like the type that would face no respite at all.

      November 8, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse |
  37. Iknowuwell

    LOL

    November 7, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Bob

    I have never seen so many contradictory, uninformed, ignorant comments in my life. Do any of you have any idea what you are talking about before you try to discredit another's comment? There is no one source that's fact... people lie, embellish and created biases to benefit themselves. I love how the most "informed" people in these comments sections don't have anything to do with the topic (e.g. how many of you actually have HIV or AIDS?)

    November 7, 2010 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. NYgirl

    That's ok – the Republicans will probably try to stop access to it, like they did to the HPV vaccine.

    November 7, 2010 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. sara

    my story: i love my husband we have kid and we have been sap-rated for long time because of some problems, it was about time to meet this year and have more kids, so i told him to check up before before i sleep with him, i was not even serious about it, but he check up he was , and find out he was an HIV... hmmm he was broken heart, and he said he did not even think about him self, he was so sad because he love and i love him... he told me before i meet him, i really do not know myself at that time i was feint and sick for almost a year i could not stop crying, and i could not eat like i was before my... i always check on the internet if there is any new news about the cure i still can not believe what happen to my love.... i am beautiful and i am young, i can find other man, but my heart is just him ... i do not what to do he always cry and i cry too... our life is changed to pain he is sick am sick too by too much cry and missing him i am dying from missing him i love him.... this hiv ply a really big game in humans life.... please everyone who read this sad story pray for me i dont deserve that a person of God am a good person i dont why God do this to me and my child.....

    November 26, 2010 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Namra

    @2lanes I feel bad, .......about your bro in Afghanistan

    November 30, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. sonia

    i have been diagonise with HIV for 10yrs i was using drug to supress it not on till this great man help my friend worldtreatmentforhiv@yahoo.com i contacted him and he said i should go back for test in the next 8hrs when i went and the result came out i was hiv free. am just short of words to thank this great man but his email is worldtreatmentforhiv@yahoo.com and mine is clintonsonia@gmail.com incase you want to comfirm. for those of you with hiv and aids i want you to contact him and he will help you i promise

    May 25, 2013 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. jane

    i want to share a testimony on how i was cured from HIV by a man called Dr. Aluta of ALUTASPELLTEMPLE@HOTMAIL.COM who is very good in what he does for people. I was diagnosed of HIV in NOV. 2011 and since then i have not been living a normal life with my family, my husband and kid left me because they tested negative, i was the only who was carrying the disease and i have been living a life full of pain and sorrows because of the disease i was having inside of me, until i meant a testimony about a woman who was cured be Doctor Aluta, i was skeptical at first, but latter on i decided to give the Dr. a try, and in just 4 days after i contacted him, he told me every thing to do which i did and then he told me to go for a test to check if the cure he gave to me had worked, and i really went for the test and to my greatest surprise the disease i have been carrying for almost 3 years disappeared, and i was very happy, after that i called my husband and told him of the good news, and now i am very happy to tell you that i and my family are now living happy with out problems, and if you are also in this kind of situation, i will advice you to contact him today through his email. ALUTASPELLTEMPLE@HOTMAIL.COM or call him with his mobile number. +2348077526430. god bless Dr. Aluta for the good work he did in my life.

    November 19, 2013 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply

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