Scientists have long observed important differences in the rate of disease progression among individuals infected with HIV. It is now well established that the disease progresses faster in people with a higher viral load – the amount of genetic material from the virus found in their blood.
…[This study] is the first to investigate the relative impacts of human and viral genetics on viral load, within one group of patients.
…[The researchers] found that genetic differences between HIV strains accounted for 29% of the contrasts in viral load between patients. Human genetic variation on the other hand, explains 8.4%. Together, human and viral genetics explained a third of viral load variation.
These findings suggest that the patients’ genetics trigger genetic mutations in the HIV virus as it multiplies inside them, thus influencing the clinical course of HIV infection.
“Our study improves our understanding of HIV pathogenesis. This is an important step – the better you know your enemy, the more equipped you are to fight it and fight against the disease”, said [Jacques Fellay, director of the study by École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.] [The study can be found here.]
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