Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Prof. Siegel's Prostitutes

When I got home from lecture today, I ran to my computer and searched up Professor Siegel's special group of prostitutes that he said were immune to HIV. To my dismay, I found this. This was an article from 2000 on BBC News about a group of Kenyan former-prostitutes that were thought to be immune to HIV - but (unfortunately) weren't.

Sorry Professor Siegel :(


"A group of prostitutes thought to be immune to HIV have now become infected, causing dismay to scientists hoping to develop an Aids vaccine. It was thought that exposure to HIV on a regular basis created immunity, but six Kenyan women previously thought to be resistant are now HIV-positive."

"Scientists now think immunity may be reliant on continued exposure - once regular contact with HIV stops, immunity is lost."

Sarah Rowland-Jones, a researcher at Oxford University, described the development of HIV in the six women as "dismaying". She added: "This implies that to maintain immunity, you need to have continual exposure."

"The Kenyan women studied by the Oxford scientists have large numbers of white blood cells known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which are primed to kill other cells in which HIV hides."

The scientists devised a vaccine using this information, consisting of a small loop of DNA, containing fragments from genes for three different HIV proteins. It also contains a live, disabled cowpox virus, used in small pox vaccines, with the same gene fragments added to its genome. The vaccine effectively stimulated production of CTLs in monkeys and protected against HIV infection.

- Stephanie

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