HIV & AIDS

Researchers make first steps toward a cure for HIV

Researchers have developed a way to pull HIV out of the latent reservoir making the virus visible to the immune system and providing the potential to be killed by treatment.

HIV & AIDS

Scientists eliminate HIV-1 from genome of human T-Cells

A specialized gene editing system designed by scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University is paving the way to an eventual cure for patients infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In a study ...

HIV & AIDS

A new method for removing cells infected with the AIDS virus

With the successful suppression of the AIDS virus (HIV) through medication, the focus turns toward its eradication. Researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan have developed a new compound that is key to the destruction ...

HIV & AIDS

Study observes potential breakthrough in treatment of HIV

A new study conducted by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) observes that pharmacological enhancement of the immune systems of HIV patients could help eliminate infected cells, providing an important ...

HIV & AIDS

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

HIV & AIDS

Can HIV be transmitted via manicure instruments?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists numerous potential alternative sources of HIV transmission in addition to the known classical modes for acquiring the AIDS virus. Although manicure instruments is ...

HIV & AIDS

Clinical trial of herpes vaccine now enrolling patients

Creating a successful vaccine against two members of the family, the sexually transmitted herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), has proven to be challenging. A clinical trial being conducted by a branch of the National ...

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HIV

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 the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections. 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 (Vertical 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 now pandemic. From 1981 to 2006, AIDS killed more than 25 million people. HIV infects about 0.6 percent of the world's population. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children. A third of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and increasing poverty. According to current estimates, HIV is set to infect 90 million people in Africa, resulting in a minimum estimate of 18 million orphans. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries.

HIV primarily 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: firstly, direct viral killing of infected cells; secondly, increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells; and thirdly, 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.

Eventually most HIV-infected individuals develop AIDS. These individuals mostly die from opportunistic infections or malignancies associated with the progressive failure of the immune system. Without treatment, about 9 out of every 10 persons with HIV will progress to AIDS after 10–15 years. Many progress much sooner. 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 (as of 2005) is estimated to be more than 5 years. Without antiretroviral therapy, death normally occurs within a year.

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