MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: If HIV dies quickly in sunlight, would it be possible to cure...

Date: Sun Jan 19 21:02:17 2003
Posted By: Michel Ouellet, Projects leader
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 1041443255.Me

Hi Joel,

I'm sorry to say that even though this is a "brilliant" idea, I don't 
think it would work....  Here is why:

1- HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is quite resistant to UV light and, 
therefore, sunlight.  It would take a lot of time to get the blood virus 

2- When it infects a cell, HIV integrates its genetic material in the 
genome of the cell.  This means that even if you get rid of all free 
viruses in the blood, infected cells would still continue to produce new 
viruses every day (more than 10 billion new viruses a day!).    

3- HIV is a very sneaky virus, it is not only present in blood but hides 
in lymph nodes (specialized compartments full of white blood cells) and a 
lot of other places in the body.  You could replace the entire amount of 
blood of someone and he would still remain infected because at least one 
cell, at one hidden place, still harbors the virus and can replicate it 
efficiently to infect new cells.

The present strategies try to stop virus replication with drugs that 
specifically target important events of the viral life cycle like its 
entry into the cell (fusion blocker like T20), transformation of RNA into 
DNA (reverse transcriptase inhibitor like AZT and 3TC), its integration 
to the cell genome (integrase inhibitors like S-1360 but still in 
development) and its maturation (protease inhibitors like ritonavir).

These drugs used in combination are called HAART for Highly Active Anti-
Retroviral Therapy and this treatment is very effective as it reduces 
viral replication below detection levels and greatly increases life 
expectancy of HIV seropositive individuals.

Hope this answered your question, thanks for asking,



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