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Homearrow News and Events Year 2010 Unraveling the mystery behind AIDS - AsiaOne

Unraveling the mystery behind AIDS - AsiaOne

Latest research findings on natural protection against AIDS found in infected humans and primates show that despite prolonged infection, subjects do not develop AIDS.

These findings were conducted by Professor Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and co-discoverer of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) responsible for AIDS, in Biopolis, Singapore today.

The subjects served as valuable models to understand what constitutes protection against AIDS.

"The development of an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine is critical to prevent new infections and to reverse the curb of this devastating pandemic," said Prof Barre-Sinoussi.

She hopes to identify immune correlates of protection that will contribute to and overcome the obstacles researchers have faced in the search for an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine.

In spite of the international efforts for universal access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), there are more people who are newly infected with HIV.

These numbers far outweigh the number of HIV-infected people being treated with HAART.

In high income countries, access to HAART has had an extraordinary impact on HIV-related mortality.

The pronounced decline (more than 85% reduction) in AIDS-related deaths as a result of advances in treatment has led to an increase in HIV prevalence in these countries, making HIV infection a chronic condition.

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"Some patients on long term HAART are presenting a number of complications like metabolic disorders, cancers or cardiovascular disease. This highlights the need for careful monitoring and management of HIV infection in patients on HAART. Having a HIV vaccine would not only circumvent such complications, but would also be less costly than the treatment," added Prof Barre-Sinoussi.

The co-organiser of the seminar, Prof Philippe Kourilsky, former Director of Institut Pasteur and who is currently Chairman of A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network, said "HIV infection is an enormously important problem of public health worldwide. Knowledge gained from HIV research on which types of human immune cells react after a viral infection will be useful for developing HIV vaccines."

"Whilst there is a lot of ongoing work on developing preventive vaccines that are given to HIV-negative people to prevent them from getting infected, I believe it is equally important to develop HIV therapeutic vaccines to treat people who are already infected with HIV, to cure the disease.'' He added.

The seminar by Prof Barre-Sinoussi attracted an audience of over one hundred including researchers from the research institutes and hospitals, clinicians, as well as university students from NUS and NTU.

According to the Ministry of Health, Singapore, the total number of HIV-infected Singaporeans amounted to 3,941 as of end 2008.

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