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 이성욱 ( 2011-06-26 15:47:17 , Hit : 2685
 HIV study reveals double jeopardy

Sumitra Deb Roy, TNN Jun 24, 2011, 05.34am IST
MUMBAI: The clever HIV virus could be present in drastically different variants in the bodily fluids—blood and semen—of the same individual. This was recently established by a study of 12 HIV-infected men whose blood and semen samples were analyzed by Parel's National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH).

The finding is significant, said scientists of NIRRH, as it negates the notion that an infected person can go slow on treatment or think of starting a family once the viral load in the bloodstream becomes undetectable .

The study clearly established that the type and behaviour of the HIV virus present in the bloodstream of an infected individual could be drastically different from the type and behaviour of the virus present in the same individual's semen. In certain cases, it could look as if the individual is infected with two different types of virus altogether.

The pathbreaking HIV study, carried out by NIRRH in collaboration with the JJ Hospital's medicine department, was recently published in the Journal of Medical Virology.

Principal investigator Dr A H Bandivadekar told TOI that the study proves that the virus could disappear from the blood stream due to anti-retroviral therapy but still be very much present in the semen . "This difference in the virus nature influences the transmission of HIV, the progression of the ailment , the virus' response to the host defence and also treatment," he added.

Further, Bandivadekar added that the study pointed out that sperm-associated virus too is a huge risk factor for HIV transmission and possibly for parent child transmission. "Therefore, assisted reproductive technology where sperm washing is used may not be termed as a completely safe procedure for maternal or fetal transmission of HIV," he said.

The study further adds to the intriguing nature of the virus as it adds to the unpredictability, given its nature of constant mutation. In several of the individuals studied, the viral count in the blood differed vastly from the count in semen. For instance, while the blood plasma in one individual had 11,284 copies of the virus, the viral presence in his semen was around 5,432 copies. Also ,in two individuals, the virus load in the blood had gone below detectable levels, but there were significant quantities of the virus present in the semen. Simply put, the virus in the blood and semen infect the same individual in different ways.

Head of JJ Hospital's ART centre and one of the investigators, Dr Alka Deshpande, said the study also means that those on anti-retroviral medication should not think that it could keep the virus in both the compartments, blood and semen, under control. "It is now clear that there could be genetic differences in virus even if they are present in the same individual's body," she added. "It only means that whenever a vaccine or drug is created, the variant nature of the virus has to be kept in mind so that it can attack all compartments," she added.










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