Re: Who studies healthy HIV positives ? 4 June 2003
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Brian T Foley,
HIV Researcher
Los Alamos National Lab, Los Alamos NM 87545

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Re: Re: Who studies healthy HIV positives ?

There are dozens of research groups that study one or all of the above topics. In addition, there are also dozens of groups who study highly exposed yet uninfected people in order to determine correlates of protection from infection. Most of your questions relate to correlates of protection from disease progression after infection.

Anyone can search PebMed using NCBI Entrez or visit a local medical library and look up hundreds of research papers puclished by these groups. It turns out that there have been many different human and viral alleles identified that all contribute to long term non progression after infection and/or protection from infection in the first place. One of the first such human alleles discovered, for example, was the delta-32 allele of the CCR5 gene. After its linkage to highly exposed uninfected homosexual men was discovered, it was intensivley studied and discovered to be the gene for the major "coreceptor" for HIV-1 (the other coreceptor is the CXCR4 gene product). An example of a viral gene allele that has been linked to long term nonprogression is the delta-Nef allele of the Nef gene which was intensively studied in the Sydney (Australia) blood bank cohort. In that case, several people were all transfused with blood donated by a single donor, and most of these transfused people lived quite a long time with no symptoms (at least one of them has now died from AIDS). It turned out that there was a deletion in the Nef gene in the virus that these people were infected with.

HIV/AIDS denialists like to ignore all such studies, and pretend that almost no HIV research has been done since 1983 or so. They would like to convince people that AIDS researchers all over the world are not even sure if they have a virus to work with or not. In reality, HIV-1 and HIV-2 are two of the best-characterized viruses to date. They have been cloned, sequenced and analyzed in minute detail. X-ray crystal structures for several HIV proteins have been determined. The viral life cycle has been worked out in minute detail. Drugs which interfere with several aspects of the viral life cycle have been developed and those which interfere with reverse transcription and protease processing of the precursor proteins have been approved for human use. More recently a fusion inhibitor which interferes with viral fusion to the host cell membrane has also been approved for human use.

If you search MedLine or PubMed for "immunodeficiency long term nonprogression" you currently find 35 published papers. If you search for "immunodeficiency long term nonprogressor" you find 30 and "immunodeficiency LTNP" finds 58 published papers. Additionally, you can find hundreds of papers which discuss more moderate differences in disease progression rates. The definition of "long term nonprogressor" is designed to include only the most extreme cases where infection with HIV-1 appears to cause almost no harm after many years of infection. Many other research groups have explored factors that cause rapid to moderate or slow disease progression rates.

Competing interests:   None declared