December #66 : It Takes Guts - by Lark Lands

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Table of Contents

The Viral Lowdown: Can You Believe What She Says?

The Viral Lowdown: Say What

The Viral Lowdown: Word Is Out For New HIVers

The Viral Lowdown: Dishing Out the Denial

The Viral Lowdown: Pharma Flubs Phase IV

The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

The Viral Lowdown: Mystery: Partially Positive

The Viral Lowdown: Prison Death Prompts Probe

The Viral Lowdown: African AIDS Under a TAC

The Viral Lowdown: All Dolled Up: Rx Abuse High Among Gay HIVers


The Viral Lowdown: If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?

The Viral Lowdown: News Flash: The Sky Isn't Falling!

The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia

Tales of the (Safer Sex) City

Clean, Sober...and Medicated?

The Secret Plot to Destroy African Americans


The Art Of Living

Summit, Some More

Channel Surfing

Shout Out

Lights! Camera! Handcuffs?

Quick Picks

Life Is Sweet

Packing Meat, Just Barely

A Cell of One’s Own


Doing AIDS Justice

Petal Pusher

Carry On, MP

Milk Got You?

Comfort Zone

Big Science Kicker

Herb Of The Month

Protease Progeny

It Takes Guts

Between A Recovery And A Hard Place

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2000

It Takes Guts

by Lark Lands

For a burglar trying to break into your house, the presence of many doors and windows boosts the chances for success. Based on new UCLA research, it appears that HIV’s likelihood of gaining access to the body is similarly enhanced by an increased number of entryways—called co-receptors—in the gut, which contains 50 to 70 percent of the body’s T cells (by contrast, just 2 percent are found in the blood; see “From the Gut,” POZ, November 1999). Using samples taken from HIV negative volunteers, researchers compared T cells found in the blood with those taken from gut (gastrointestinal tract) biopsies. They found seven times the number of the  CCR5 coreceptors that HIV must use along with CD4 receptors in order to infect a cell. Chief researcher Peter Anton, MD, says: “That goes a long way toward explaining why HIV prefers to stake out its home base in the gut. Since the virus can only infect T cells that have the right combination of coreceptors, the much higher number in the gut literally unlocks the door so HIV can get in.”

Adding insult to injury, when the researchers exposed the T cells taken from the two different sources to HIV, they found that while viral replication in the blood-derived T cells was relatively low level, the gut-derived cells made for a happy viral petri dish. And, Anton warns, since the lining of the GI tract is only a single cell thick, even slight abrasions that occur during anal or oral sex can expose those plentifully receptored gut T cells to HIV. Consider it another encouragement to place that warning sticker on the premises: This Body Protected by Latex Security Services.  

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