April #46 : Under-Celling PWAs - by Lark Lands

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L.A. Confidential

Fat Chance

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Ron Rosa

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Michelle Lopez


To the Editor

The Last Dance

Truth or DARE

Piece of Mind

Poster of the Month: Absolutely Not Enough

Hang a Right

Out in Africa

Mutual Disgust

8 Years to a Vaccine and Counting

Say What

POZarazzi: Shock Troops

High Time

POZ Picks


Back to Life, Back to Reality: Don Kao

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Roy Mead

Back to Life, Back to Reality: Linda Grinberg

The High Cost of Living

How to Make Art in an Epidemic

The Seven-Year Itch

Varsity Blues

A Woman Under the Influence

Integration Now

Get Over It

A Pocketful of Protein

Under-Celling PWAs

Brain Storm

Reefer Rap

Get Baked

All You Can Eat

Raging Hormones

Het Connect

Where to Find It

Frequent Flyer

April Showers . . .

Payback Time

From Fruits to Nuts

When Adam Met Eve

Aunt Evelyn's Letters

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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April 1999

Under-Celling PWAs

by Lark Lands

It’s the virus, stupid. Still true, but HIV’s main effect may not be what we’d thought. Using a new cell-labeling system that employs sugar molecules to track the life and death of CD4 and CD8 cells, researchers at the University of California (at San Francisco and Berkeley) have found evidence that may reshape our understanding of how HIV causes immune destruction. The old view—first advanced by the prince of HIV eradication, David Ho, MD—is that of the immune system’s ultimate exhaustion and collapse after years of feverishly churning out millions of cells doomed to quick infection and death. The new California research—comparing HAART-takers, untreated HIVers and HIV negatives—shows that although the virus does indeed destroy cells, the primary cause of T-cell decline is a greatly shortened lifespan, not compensated by an increased cell-production rate. Compared to those not on therapy, HAART-takers had markedly higher cell-production rates—the explanation for their elevated T-cell counts—but those cells’ lifespans didn’t increase. Researchers have yet to figure out why the body’s cell production fails to counter the effects of the shortened lifespan, but a good guess is HIV’s effects on the thymus and bone marrow. While some top scientists consider these findings very controversial, others believe they will add an important dimension to our understanding of the disease—and, most important, focus attention on therapies to boost cell production. 

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