10 Greatest HIV Discoveries of 2011
BY Michelle Garcia
December 01 2011 5:00 AM ET
8. Gene therapy gets turned on its head.
Many have looked how gene therapy can change the way HIV affects a person’s immune system, but a new theory is exploring the role of gene therapy in HIV transmission. In March researchers published a study, based on computer simulations, postulating that HIVers receiving gene therapy to suppress viral load would be less likely to transmit HIV to a sexual partner but would transmit the therapeutic material, weakening the virus’s effect if the partner did contract it.
9. Doctors discover HIV helps treat cancer.
When chemotherapy failed to treat William Ludwig’s leukemia, doctors tried a new method: They removed a billion of his T cells, infused them with a disabled form of HIV that allowed them to carry cancer-fighting genes, and placed them back in his body. The risky move essentially taught his immune system to kill cancer cells. His doctors are not willing to go so far as to say he is cured, but his leukemia remains in remission.
10. Turns out, the truth is in the hair.
Researchers found that measuring the levels of Reyataz in people’s hair may be the best way to see how well they are sticking to their treatments. In a recent study, 77% of women who had previously had problems adhering to their drug regimen said they had taken at least 95% of their Reyataz doses. A quick sampling of their hair proved the opposite: Fewer than 20% had actually stuck to the regimen.