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.

Surgery

Updated guidance provided for safe solid organ transplantation

(HealthDay)—Updated recommendations for reducing transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) through transplantation include universal solid organ donor nucleic acid testing, according to research ...

HIV & AIDS

Researchers discover how HIV hides from treatment

Even after successful antiretroviral therapy, HIV can hide dormant in a tiny number of immune system cells for decades and re-emerge to threaten the life of its host. Now Yale University researchers have discovered a molecular ...

HIV & AIDS

Scientists identify a new potential reservoir of latent HIV

Scientists have long known that even in the face of antiretroviral therapy, some HIV virus remains in infected individuals forever, hiding in small reservoirs of cells of the immune system. When these individuals discontinue ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Microbiologist explains the viruses that can wreak havoc globally

The novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous damage, killing tens of thousands of people, and upending economies as nations struggle to contain its spread. But on its own, like other viruses, it ...

HIV & AIDS

HIV-related heart disease risk varies by geography, income

People living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to people without HIV. Data linking HIV and CVD, CVD risk factors and CVD risk assessment come predominantly ...

HIV & AIDS

Immunotherapy combo achieves reservoir shrinkage in HIV model

Stimulating immune cells with two cancer immunotherapies together can shrink the size of the viral "reservoir" in SIV-infected non-human primates treated with antiviral drugs, researchers have concluded. The reservoir includes ...

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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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