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Are some people missing a protein required to contract HIV?
May 1, 2007

Hey Dr. Frascino, thank you for your helpful site. I have a friend who claims that he cannot contract HIV because when he was in the military they did a study on him that said that he does not have a protein to which HIV must bond in order to remain in the body (he said it was protein 23 or protein 22; he couldnt remember which). He claimed that since he doesnt have that protein, HIV would just die and flush out of the body. He practices safe sex to avoid other STDs but seems think that HIV is something he will never have to worry about contracting even if exposed to it. I am not familiar with the HIV bonding process. Is it possible that some people are born without certain proteins on the outside of the cells to which HIV bonds, thus precluding them from being vulnerable to HIV infection? If not, could he have misunderstood something about whatever the military healthcare personnel told him and is there anything you can think of that may be easily confused with this? Thank you for your help.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Perhaps your friend is dyslexic and his "protein 23" is the delta 32 mutation??? (See below.) Also, please note even if your dyslexic dude does possess the delta 32 mutation, this would not make him immune to all strains of HIV! Consequently, you might inform him safe sex is still very much an imperative for him!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

delta 32 Mar 17, 2007

Dr. Bob ...

I think I may have heard everything now! So, I'm on Craigslist just 'poking' around and I see this guy who wants to have sex - but, he only does it bb. Now, here is where it gets wacky! He's HIV Negative and says, "I just got tested in January, but, I just do that so guys will know the right answer. I don't worry about HIV ... I'm delta 32."

What does that mean? I went to a link, that he provided, and it talked about smallpox, and the plague.

What gives? Is this guy a bit crazy or is he really "safe?"

Can you shed some light, my friend?? :)

Thanks!! Oh and P.S., I thought I found Prince Charming ... But, it wasn't him! I'm still looking! You have any cute friends in Orange County?

QS

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey QS,

So you were poking around Craigslist looking for some poking?

Delta 32 is a bit complex to explain, but I'll give it a shot. First, some background. HIV can only infect certain cells that have specific "receptors" on their surface that allow HIV to enter. HIV attaches to CD4 receptors. However, CD4 alone isn't enough for viral entry. Another protein called CCR5 is also needed. CCR5 is called a co-receptor. Some folks have a mutation in the CCR5 gene called CCR5-delta 32 mutation. This mutation changes the configuration of the CCR5 protein such that HIV cannot bind to it. Genes, of course, are inherited. If you inherit a CCR5-delta 32 gene mutation from both parents, your chances of becoming HIV infected are dramatically reduced. This occurs in about 1-3% of Caucasians. If you inherit one CCR5-delta 32 mutation (from just one parent), it will confer some protection against acquiring HIV and may make HIV disease less severe if you do become infected. Current estimates are that 10-25% of Caucasians may have a single CCR5-delta 32 mutation.

So should Craigslist Delta-32 Boy "not worry" about HIV? Absofrickinlutely NOT! It is downright dangerous to assume you are safe if you have the CCR5-delta 32 mutation. It is not a guarantee of HIV immunity. HIV is much too smart for that. Some strains of HIV use proteins other than CCR5 as co-receptors to enter CD4 cells.

As for the bubonic plague (Black Death) and smallpox link, it appears that the CCR5-delta 32 mutation may have arisen to protect folks in Europe from these illnesses. The mutation affords protection from these ailments and could have arisen via an evolutionary process. (Yes, right-wing religious wing-nuts, evolution does indeed exist!)

So if you happen to hook up with Delta-32 Boy, you might want to give him a science lesson along with his poke.

Finally, hotties in Orange County? Sure, I know some Prince Charmings in that zip code, but unfortunately none are currently single. So I guess you'll just have to continue kissing those toads until your prince arrives.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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