Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Stem Cells Paving Way to Cure for HIV

It's a popular claim or rant of religious extremists that HIV or AIDS is God's punishment for a life of homosexuality, and sexual promiscuity in general. This, of course, ignores the fact that, if you look at the stats, AIDS rates look like they have a lot more to do with overall education and poverty levels than the percentage of the population that is homosexual. One such site is the CIA Factbook, in which African countries are up among the top in percentage of adults living with AIDS.

If AIDS was a homosexual phenomenon, you would expect a clear trend where rates of AIDS are higher in areas with more homosexuals (particularly homosexual men, since that's what homophobes are usually thinking about when they consider same-sex). In the US, looking at the statistics collected by the Avert website, it's impossible to see any such trend. There is a larger percentage of homosexuals living in San Francisco according to surveys (check here and particularly here) yet that is not where we see the highest rates of AIDS. In fact, one of the areas with quite high rates is Jackson, MS, or even in Texas.

This is all a side issue or rather prelude to the core of this post though.

As part of a patient with leukemia's treatment, doctors implanted him with healthy stem cells from a donor. Since the patient also had HIV, doctors chose a donor who had a natural resistance to the virus, to see whether this would confer the natural immunity to the patient. (See here for more details) Since the operation two years ago, he has shown no signs of HIV in his blood.

This is amazing news and may indeed turn out to be a cure for AIDS. It's early days yet and the operation itself is rather involved to be, at this stage, a lightly undertaken procedure, but it certainly should be cause for hope for the millions of people worldwide who are afflicted by the virus.

In summary, to those religious people who claimed or still think that AIDS is God's punishment upon homosexuals, or indeed, the world:

Humanity 1, God 0.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I saw an excellent documentary about this type of resistance (not only to AIDS but many other viruses). Apparently there was a selection pressure for this gene during the latter parts of the plauge years n Europe. You know, that crazy evolution stuff! :)

  3. Happen to have a link to where I can get the documentary? (Or at least a name?) It sounds interesting.

  4. I think it was this one: http://documentaryfilms.suite101.com/article.cfm/tv_review_secrets_of_the_great_plague :)