October / November #10 : Fighting Blind

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Table of Contents

Fear of Disclosure

The Sum of Its Parts

Marquee Values

It Takes IL-2 To Tango

Relapse: Don't Do It

Sister Soldier

Dancing Around It

Taking Care of Their Own


Fighting Blind

Free Load

Hitt and Misses

Post Office Botch

Checking In: Cheating On Your Doctor

Sew We Don’t Forget

Pump Up the Volume

Benefit Short Circuit

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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October / November 1995

Fighting Blind

Body Doesn't Know When CD4s Drop

The all-important immune system can heal

Body Doesn't Know When CD4s Drop

The all-important immune system can heal cuts and cure colds, but it can't seem to keep track of its own army of cells -- a weakness that HIV exploits, says a group of investigators, primarily at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While the body manufactures two major types of disease-fighting T-cells -- CD4 and CD8 cells -- HIV infects and destroys only the CD4 variety. Unfortunately, according to a theory called blind T-cell homeostasis, the immune system doesn't distinguish between the types when it's making new ones, and that oversight results in the characteristic plummet in CD4 count -- and eventual immune system failure -- among people with HIV disease. The investigators confirmed this hypothesis by studying data from 372 people in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and, as expected, they found most experienced a progressive decline in CD4 cells while their CD8 cells increased. In addition, they discovered a fundamental change occurs in people with HIV about two years before their first AIDS-defining illness, when the entire production of new T-cells breaks down and both CD4 and CD8 cell counts fall. The body's organization problem suggests medical researchers should continue to find ways to boost CD4 counts in people with HIV to counteract the body's "blindness," the Hopkinds study said.

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