Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Maybe smallpox wasn't so bad after all?

Found a link to the following article in my ASCP "Daily Diagnosis" e-mail newsletter.
The worldwide eradication of smallpox may, inadvertently, have helped spread HIV infection, scientists believe.

Experts say the vaccine used to wipe out smallpox offered some protection against the Aids virus and, now it is no longer used, HIV has flourished.
For reals?
To test if the events may be linked, the researchers looked at the white blood cells taken from people recently immunised against smallpox and tested how they responded to HIV.

They found significantly lower replication rates of HIV in blood cells from vaccinated individuals, compared with those from unvaccinated controls.

The smallpox vaccine appeared to cut HIV replication five-fold.
The researchers believe vaccination may offer some protection against HIV by producing long-term alterations in the immune system, possibly including the expression of a receptor called CCR5 on the surface of white blood cells, which is exploited by the smallpox virus and HIV.
I wonder if it's possible to revive the smallpox vaccination program. Immunize those most at risk for the disease and then see if we can detect a drop in HIV rates of infection.

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