This is a photo of Miley Cyrus donating at the Amfar Inspiration Gala in LA last week. Whilst a very large number of news sites decided to write unwanted nasty comments about her ‘revealing bondage-style dress’, a very few wrote about the fact that here, she is seen donating £500,000 to the AID’s fund, and that’s why this world and society is fucked up.

A random genetic mutation has made HIV harmless in two patients

French researchers have pinpointed a genetic mutation that has resulted in two men showing no symptoms or clinical traces of HIV, despite being infected by the virus for at least three years.

They’ve found that, in both patients, the HIV virus was shut down as a result of its genetic code being altered - something they believe was triggered by the activation of a group of enzymes known as APOBEC enzymes.

The research suggests that by activating these enzymes in other patients, we may be able to disable the AIDS-causing virus even after someone’s already been infected. In fact, it’s one of the first potential “cures” put forward that would result in a patient remaining infected by HIV.

The scientists were so fascinated by the two patients because neither had developed any symptoms, despite being infected with HIV for years. One of the men had been diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, and the other was diagnosed in 2011. But despite that, the virus was present in such low levels that it could not be detected in routine blood tests, and it also wasn’t causing them any symptoms or ill health.

The researchers from France’s Institute of Health and Medical Research believe that these two patients are not unique, and their lack of symptoms are a result of an evolutionary shift between some humans and the virus - a spontaneous phenomenon known as endogenisation.

Their results are published in the current issue of Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

In the paper they explain that it’s well known that around 1 percent of people infected with HIV are naturally able to keep the virus at clinically undetectable level. However, no one quite knew what this genetic mechanism was until now.

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Following the enormous conjecture in the press over the last two weeks, I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with my doctors and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue.
—  Freddie’s statement to the press, exactly 23 years ago today  :,(

By the time the AIDs virus, HIV, was discovered in 1983 it had been silently spreading in Africa for over 50 years. First it jumped from chimps to humans in south east Cameroon, most likely via a bush meat hunter. But scientists pinpoint Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo) 700 kilometres away as the epicentre of the pandemic. So an unwitting human virus carrier probably took HIV down the Sangha and Congo Rivers by ferry, reaching the city by the 1920s. Then, aided by an explosion in STDs in the 1930s and possible virus transmission via antibiotic treatment using contaminated needles in the 1940s-1950s, the virus gained a foothold in Kinshasa. But there the trail went cold - exactly how HIV spread from Kinshasa to the rest of Africa remained a mystery.

Now scientists have found the answer – the railways. Built by colonial powers from the 1920s onwards to transport diamonds from remote mining towns to Leopoldville, trains inadvertently carried the virus inside human cargo to these rapidly growing centres. And from there HIV stealthy crept across Africa. Then in 1964 the virus took flight to Haiti and onwards to the US three years later – its global journey had begun. 

- Dorothy H. Crawford, author of Virus Hunt

Image: Union of South Africa rail travel, by Andrew. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.