23 October 2007

New clues to HIV progression

Variations in two key genes influence how quickly HIV-infected people develop Aids, says a new US study.

Variations in two key genes influence how quickly HIV-infected people develop Aids, says a US study that challenges the long-held belief that viral load - the amount of HIV in the blood - is the main factor that determines progression to Aids.

Variations in the CCR5 and CCL3L1 genes may affect immune system response to HIV and replication of the virus. Other genes may also play a role but more research is required to determine that, Agence France-Presse reported.

CCR5 controls a key receptor on the surface of the CD4 immune cell onto which HIV attaches, while CCL3L1 controls an immune system signalling molecule called a chemokine, which blocks HIV from attaching to the CCR5 receptor, the researchers said.

Viral load not so important?
In this study, the researchers analysed thousands of HIV-infected patients and healthy people and found that viral load accounted for only nine percent of the difference in how rapidly HIV-infected patients developed Aids.

"The genetic variations contribute nearly as much to the extent of inter-individual variability in Aids progression rates as does HIV-1 viral load," team leader Sunil Ahuja of the University of Texas Health Science Centre in San Antonio, told AFP.

"Even after accounting for the detrimental effects of a high viral burden, these genetic factors influence the pace of HIV-1 disease progression," said study first author Hemant Kulkarni, assistant professor of medicine at the Health Science Centre. – (HealthDayNews)

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HIV/Aids Centre

October 2007


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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria before working for an HIV/AIDS NPO in Soweto for many years. She was named one of the Mail & Guardian's Top 200 Young South Africans in 2012.

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