A team of scientists at San Diego’s Center for AID Research has studies, focused around the discovery of the origin of HIV being among men who have sex with men, that may be key in developing new prevention methods for the deadly virus.
“If we want to stop the HIV epidemic, then we must know the mechanisms by which HIV uses human sex to spread,” said principal investigator Davey Smith, MD, MAS, associate professor of medicine in UCSD’s Division of Infectious Diseases and in the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and director of the CFAR Viral Pathogenesis Core.
Scientists studied a group of men who had sexually transmitted the virus to other men and then compared their genetic characteristics to determine when the various groups of viruses were created, as to find out the source of the HIV viruses.
“The findings from this study will help direct prevention strategies to address the virus in the seminal plasma,” Smith said. “By knowing the origin of the transmitted virus, scientists may be able to develop new vaccines, vaginal microbicides and drugs to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted HIV.”
Because the research only focused on gay men, the findings do not apply to the study of how HIV may be sexually transmitted in women. HIV RNA in the seminal plasma of semen may be the cause of its transmission, but more research needs to be conducted.