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A scientific smorgasbord for AIDS.

A scientific smorgasbord for AIDS

Reaffirmation from federal officials that they will mail controversially explicit AIDS brochures to all U.S. households was only part of last week's news about the disease. Researchers here and abroad released more new scientific data on AIDS, including the following:

* Many people have wondered whether kissing can transmit the AIDS virus (HIV). With no documented cases of mouth-to-mouth transmission, current scientific thought says there is no danger, despite the fact some studies have found HIV in saliva. Now researchers at the National Institute of Dental Research in Bethesda, Md., report saliva from three healthy men stopped HIV from infecting blood cells in vitro. Writing in the May JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION, the scientists say they hope to identify which saliva substances inhibit the virus, and to test saliva from AIDS patients and others.

* Direct sunlight may be one of the factors that reactivate HIV and cause its proliferation inside cells, suggest scientists from Pennsylvania and Belgium. Their report in the May 5 NATURE concludes that ultraviolet light -- a component of sunlight -- enhances HIV replication up to 150-fold when T lymphocytes are irradiated prior to infection. When they exposed cells directly to the sun for 30 minutes, HIV activity increased about 12-fold. The scientists, however, do not suggest that HIV-infected individuals avoid the sun because of these preliminary laboratory results.

* Based on a prospective study of 15 HIV-infected patients, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta say a patient's number of infected blood-lymphocyte cells increases dramatically during the year prior to appearance of AIDS symptoms. (Cell counts drop with the onset of AIDS.) In the six patients who subsequently developed AIDS, a 25-fold increase in infected cells occurred during the previous year -- a finding that may help physicians decide which infected-but-without-AIDS individuals to treat and when to begin therapy.
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Title Annotation:new scientific data
Publication:Science News
Date:May 14, 1988
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