HIV/Aids

27 October 2009

Sperm transmits HIV

New research suggests that sperm, not just semen, can transmit the virus that causes AIDS to immune cells in the body and, in fact, sperm may play a major role in transmission.

0

New research suggests that sperm, not just semen, can transmit the virus that causes AIDS to immune cells in the body and, in fact, sperm may play a major role in transmission.

Scientists already know that men infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can spread the disease through their semen, the fluid that carries sperm. But it hasn't been clear what role sperm itself plays, especially considering that men who don't produce sperm, such as those who have had vasectomies, can transmit the virus.

In a new study, published in the Oct. 26 online edition and the Nov. 23 print issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers found that the virus attaches to the surface of sperm and can be transmitted to immune cells.

Immune cells known as dendritic cells appear to be vulnerable, the study authors explained. The researchers, led by Ana Ceballos of the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, think the virus gets to these cells by passing through tiny abrasions in the vagina or anus or perhaps through another method.

The researchers said that a slightly acid environment, which they likened to that in the vagina after sexual intercourse, boosts the likelihood of infection of these cells. – (HealthDay News, October 2009)

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules