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Study Examines Gender Differences in Immune System's Response to HIV

July 14, 2009

New research showing that "a receptor molecule involved in the recognition of HIV-1 responds to the virus differently in women than in men," might "explain why HIV infection progresses faster to AIDS in women than in men with similar viral loads," the HealthDay/Greenville Daily Reflector reports. The study was conducted by researchers at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Study authors also note that during the early stages of infection, women tend to have a stronger immune response to HIV than men, but then progress to AIDS more quickly. The different immune system response "then leads to differences in chronic T-cell activation, a known activator of disease progression, according to the researchers," the article states (7/13). Researcher Marcus Altfeld said the findings raise new questions about how sex hormones affect HIV in the body. "Focusing on immune activation separately from viral replication might give us new therapeutic approaches" to treating HIV, he added (AFP/Google News, 7/13).

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