Transmission of HIV: Scientists Spotlight Virus That Starts Infection
Nov 14, 2011 - 11:10:14 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - ATLANTA--When HIV is transmitted from one person to another, the virus faces a genetic "bottleneck." This means that usually during heterosexual transmission, only one virus out of a swarm of frequently mutating viruses establishes the new infection.
Now Emory Vaccine Center researchers have shown that the virus that starts an individual’s new infection differs markedly from the dominant strains in his or her partner’s genital tract. This suggests that the process of transmission favors some viral variants, and the bottleneck effect doesn’t arise simply by chance or through what types of virus flourish better in the genital tract.
The results are published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition.
“If the success of the establishing virus came only by chance, most of the time it would be one of the viruses that is most abundant in the donor’s genital tract. But we don’t see that,” says senior author Eric Hunter, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. “What we see suggests that transmission is selecting for certain viruses. The virus establishing the infection is a single variant, but that variant is different for each transmission event.”
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