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Test diagnoses AIDS in newborns.

Test diagnoses AIDS in newborns

Scientists have discovered they can use a sensitive genetic test to detect the AIDS virus AIDS virus
See HIV.
, HIV HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States. , in newborn babies and that the test provides a reliable indication of which infants born to infected in·fect  
tr.v. in·fect·ed, in·fect·ing, in·fects
1. To contaminate with a pathogenic microorganism or agent.

2. To communicate a pathogen or disease to.

3. To invade and produce infection in.
 mothers will develop full-blown AIDS. If larger studies confirm these findings, early detection in children should enable physicians to begin earlier treatment, which researchers say is likely to be more effective in ameliorating a·mel·io·rate  
tr. & intr.v. a·me·lio·rat·ed, a·me·lio·rat·ing, a·me·lio·rates
To make or become better; improve. See Synonyms at improve.

[Alteration of meliorate.
 AIDS symptoms. And by identifying which babies of HIV-positive mothers are infected, the test might spare uninfected children the toxic effects of AIDS drugs, says study coauthor Chin-Yih Ou of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Moreover, suggest Ou and his colleagues in the June 2i NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE The New England Journal of Medicine (New Engl J Med or NEJM) is an English-language peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. It is one of the most popular and widely-read peer-reviewed general medical journals in the world. , the genetic test might help scientists uncover clues to how babies acquire the virus from their mothers--information that could eventually lead to preventive therapies.

At present, physicians cannot be certain that an infant is infected with HIV until symptoms appear, usually at about 1 year of age, Ou says. Current tests cannot detect the virus in newborns, and antibody screening fails because of maternal antibodies, which can persist for up to 15 months after birth.

The researchers used a method known as the polymerase chain reaction--which involves amplyfying tiny amounts of DNA--on blood samples obtained during the first month of life from babies of HIV-infected mothers. They detected HIV DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
 or deoxyribonucleic acid

One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes.
 in five of seven infants who later developed full-blown AIDS and in one of eight who later displayed symptoms suggesting HIV infection. In contrast, they did not find the virus in blood from any of the none infants who remained healthy at 16 months of age.
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Author:Wickelgren, I.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 24, 1989
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