10 Greatest HIV Discoveries of 2011
BY Michelle Garcia
December 01 2011 5:00 AM ET
4. A prevention treatment for couples is successful.
One of the more notable breakthroughs of the year concerned a study that was so successful, it ended early. A total of 1,763 relatively healthy HIVers were treated with antiretrovirals, and they avoided transmitting the virus to their HIV-negative partners in 96% of cases. The study was composed mostly of heterosexual couples, so there are no conclusive numbers for serodiscordant gay couples.
5. Glowing cats may help solve kitty version of HIV.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found a colorful way to develop a gene-based strategy to fight the feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, the feline version of HIV. A gene that provides a green fluorescent protein in jellyfish was used to mark for cells carrying a second gene, which confers resistance to FIV. The fluorescent gene causes the cats to glow and therefore allows scientists to track cell movement and tissue function.
6. Computer mapping and other technologies help target HIV in the U.S.
Studies presented at the annual National HIV Prevention Conference in August showed health agencies using technology to enhance prevention and care efforts. Los Angeles County health officials used computer mapping to identify HIVers receiving inadequate treatment, while a Cleveland hospital system used electronic health records to remind doctors to routinely screen patients for HIV. Jonathan Mermin, director of the division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the findings will be incorporated into national AIDS-fighting strategy.
7. Remove the cholesterol, treat the virus?
A team of scientists from the U.S. and Europe found in September that removing cholesterol from the membrane of an HIV particle can keep the virus from damaging the immune system.