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HIV, a lifesaver?

It's hard to imagine that HIV has any redeeming qualities, but scientists say the virus that has led to so many deaths also helps kill cancer. Researchers at New York's University of Rochester Medical Center report that a single gene in HIV, called vpr, is much more effective at killing cancer cells than traditional chemotherapy.

Instead of stepping on the brakes the way chemotherapy does, it's as if vpr tears off the wheels. "[Vpr] seems to interrupt a fundamental life process of a cell," explained Rochester medical professor Vicente Planelles. "We have not found a single human cancer that vpr did not kill."

Because vpr is only one of the many genes that make up HIV, it would be impossible for people to become HIV-positive from being treated with it. --Sue Rochman


At-risk adults

While it's well-known that gay and lesbian youths are at higher risk for suicide than their straight peers, a study in the October Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that the same might be true for gay and lesbian adults.

Researchers interviewed 103 pairs of adult twin males in which one twin reported having had male sex partners in adulthood and the other twin did not. They found that the twin who had had sex with other men was 6.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

"There are clearly social causes associated with attempted suicide in gay and lesbian individuals," said Gary Remafedi, director of the University of Minnesota Youth and AIDS Projects, whose commentary accompanied the study. "But there continues to be controversy about if this is true. We need to get beyond that and start looking at what we can do to prevent it." --S.R.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 7, 1999
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