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AIDS: Genetic Clues from HIV Elite Controllers Could Lead to Better Vaccines, Cancer Treatments (preview)

Posted: August 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm

One day in early 1995 a man named bob massie walked into my office at the outpatient clinic of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Massie told me he had been infected with HIV--the virus that causes AIDS--for 16 years and yet had never shown any symptoms. My physical examination confirmed he was healthy, in stark contrast to all other patients I saw that day. At that time, a new combination of drugs was being tested that would eventually slow the progressive decline in immune function that HIV caused. In 1995, however, most people who had been infected with HIV for a decade or more had already progressed to AIDS--the stage marked by the inability to fight off other pathogens. The young man standing before me had never taken anti-HIV medication and strongly believed that if I learned the secret to his good fortune, the information could help others to survive what was then generally thought to be a uniformly fatal disease.


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