April 15, 2008
Each rhesus monkey cell infected with the simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, produces at least 50,000 viruses over its life span, suggesting HIV spreads more rapidly than previously estimated, according to a study by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
Researcher Alan Perelson and colleagues created an SIV strain that could infect one cell and reproduce, but the offspring were unable to infect other cells. After infecting rhesus monkeys with the strain, researchers examined the monkeys and counted the number of viruses made from the one cell over its life span.
According to Perelson, SIV and HIV act similarly, so it is likely that HIV could behave the same way. He noted that prior studies, which found that an HIV cell produced 1,000 to 2,000 viruses, examined the cell at a single point in time instead of a cell's entire life span. "Overall, ... this tells us the infection is a lot tougher to combat," Perelson said, adding, "Early in the infection, sharing needles, blood, if a small number of cells are transferred, the disease has a larger chance of spreading through the body quickly."
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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