People with a rare genetic trait who are infected with HIV progress more slowly to AIDS than others. But even within this group, there are wide variations in time to progression. A new study illustrates in detail how the immune system fights the virus in those subjects who progress more slowly. The research, which could prove useful to efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV, is published in the September Journal of Virology.
Absent antiretroviral therapy, most of those infected with HIV progress to AIDS within a decade. But 5-15 percent remain symptom free for years even without therapy. A portion of these people maintain high CD4+T immune cell counts, along with low levels of virus for several years. Many of these people possess the afore-mentioned rare genetic trait, the awkwardly-named HLA-B*5701 allele (an allele is one possible version of a gene), and their time of progression can range from around six years to well beyond ten years.
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