Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Big step towards cure for lifelong viral infections

New research has taken us a step closer to finding a cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), as well as other infections including the glandular fever virus, which is associated with the development of lymphoma. Some ...

Aug 03, 2016
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A macaque model of HIV infection

Researchers have taken a major step toward developing a better animal model of human AIDS. Such a model could greatly improve researchers' ability to evaluate potential strategies for preventing and treating the disease.

Jun 02, 2016
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HIV 'safe houses' identified

Researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM) have identified cells that provide "safe houses" for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Jul 14, 2016
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Scientists outline stategy for AIDS cure

Calling the AIDS epidemic "the most important global health challenge in modern history," more than 50 top scientists pressed their case Monday for a drive to stop the killer disease in its tracks.

Jul 11, 2016
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AIDS summit in S.Africa to warn of lagging effort

Sixteen years after Nelson Mandela galvanised the world to take up the fight against AIDS, experts and activists return to the South African city of Durban on Monday, seeking to revitalise the fight against the disease.

Jul 16, 2016
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Researchers warn of no quick HIV cure

Researchers on Tuesday praised progress made towards developing an HIV cure, but said it was impossible to tell when or even if a cure for the devastating epidemic would be found.

Jul 19, 2016
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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells. The four major routes of transmission are unsafe sex, contaminated needles, breast milk, and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth (perinatal transmission). Screening of blood products for HIV has largely eliminated transmission through blood transfusions or infected blood products in the developed world.

HIV infection in humans is considered pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Nevertheless, complacency about HIV may play a key role in HIV risk. From its discovery in 1981 to 2006, AIDS killed more than 25 million people. HIV infects about 0.6% of the world's population. In 2009, AIDS claimed an estimated 1.8 million lives, down from a global peak of 2.1 million in 2004. Approximately 260,000 children died of AIDS in 2009. A disproportionate number of AIDS deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and exacerbating the burden of poverty. An estimated 22.5 million people (68% of the global total) live with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, which is also home to 90% of the world's 16.6 million children orphaned by HIV. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection. Although antiretroviral medication is still not universally available, expansion of antiretroviral therapy programs since 2004 has helped to turn the tide of AIDS deaths and new infections in many parts of the world. Intensified awareness and preventive measures, as well as the natural course of the epidemic, have also played a role. Nevertheless, an estimated 2.6 million people were newly infected in 2009.

HIV infects vital cells in the human immune system such as helper T cells (specifically CD4+ T cells), macrophages, and dendritic cells. HIV infection leads to low levels of CD4+ T cells through three main mechanisms: First, direct viral killing of infected cells; second, increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells; and third, killing of infected CD4+ T cells by CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize infected cells. When CD4+ T cell numbers decline below a critical level, cell-mediated immunity is lost, and the body becomes progressively more susceptible to opportunistic infections.

Most untreated people infected with HIV-1 eventually develop AIDS. These individuals mostly die from opportunistic infections or malignancies associated with the progressive failure of the immune system. HIV progresses to AIDS at a variable rate affected by viral, host, and environmental factors; most will progress to AIDS within 10 years of HIV infection: some will have progressed much sooner, and some will take much longer. Treatment with anti-retrovirals increases the life expectancy of people infected with HIV. Even after HIV has progressed to diagnosable AIDS, the average survival time with antiretroviral therapy was estimated to be more than 5 years as of 2005[update]. Without antiretroviral therapy, someone who has AIDS typically dies within a year.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

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