Saturday, July 19, 2008

Unintended Circumstances: Malaria vs. HIV

HIV virus

Savannah, GA. A gene evolved to specifically protect Africans and their descendants against an ancient form of malaria has been revealed to convey a vulnerability to HIV infection by as much as 40 per cent.

The University of Texas Health Science Center led the research, published in the July 17th issue of Cell Host and Microbe.

For HIV, considered by my some to be everything from a punishment by a punishing deity to a CIA racist plot, a genetic reason may finally explain why the virus is so insidiously present among certain populations. The gene variant is found only in individuals of African descent, and within those descendants, present in nearly 90 per cent of the population.

"It's well-known that individuals vary in their susceptibility to HIV and that after infection occurs, the disease progresses at variable rates," said co-author Sunil Ahuja of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

"The mystery of variable infection and progression was originally thought to be mainly the result of viral characteristics, but in recent years it has become evident that there is a strong host genetic component."

Science: 1; Religious opinion: 0

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