Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can HIV Be Eradicated Without Vaccines?

I read an article recently that discussed the potential for eradicating HIV using prophylaxis and anti-retroviral drugs. It's a curious idea since we are taught in class that having a good vaccine is a dominant reason why eradication efforts have worked in the past. Given the nature of HIV spread, the effectiveness (in preventing transmission) and diversity of anti-retroviral drugs, and the lack of a capable, licensed vaccine, suppressing HIV and preventing it's spread may be the best solution; theoretically, it would take a few generations if our only option was to stop spread and wait until the last person with HIV dies, but people are banking on the possibility of reactivating latent HIV reservoirs--a popular area of HIV research--and flushing the virus out of an individual completely, leading to eradication within decades; it won't come cheap though (est. $24 billion a year) and drugs that change the chromatin environment in latent HIV infected cells would need to be developed and approved. One thing that might hamper the effort would be latency in in Hematopoetic Stem Cells!. If eradication through antivirals is successful, it might change the vaccine-centered paradigm. (Original Article)

- NGUyen

Other Cool Stuff:
*In 2006, CDC recommended routine HIV screening for everyone 13-64 years.

*Below: How the Oraquick test works. The way antibodies and enzymes are represented in the picture makes me chuckle.


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