170 seropositive children are a real puzzle to science

by Beatrice Credi - 2016.10.14
170 seropositive children are a real puzzle to science
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The scientists call them ‘non-progressors‘. They are 170 babies from South Africa born with HIV that they contracted in their mother's womb. Despite the very high levels in their blood, they manifest no symptoms. Their infection did not progress along the usual path to AIDS. This is a first ever clinical profile of this kind. Extremely surprising to the doctors who are monitoring these children at the University of Oxford because it appears that their health status will remain as it is. This appears to be somewhere between a miracle and a biological breakdown that challenges logic itself. But there is an explanation. And it lies in the very weak immune system of these little patients. There are simply not enough cells for the "monster-HIV" to infect and destroy. It is as if these children's bodies activate a mecchanism of spontaneous, autonomous autoprotection that is usually activated by pharmacological therapies (retrovirus) in individuals affected by HIV. These drugs usually take the steam out of HIV, but also suppress the immune system. It is only a hypothesis at this point that needs to be explored further. However, it is definitely a new frontier to explore in this illness that shows no signs of letting up.

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