Editorials

A new agenda for AIDS research

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7018.1448 (Published 02 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1448
  1. Bruce D Walker
  1. Director AIDS Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA

    Cautious optimism despite the growing need for answers

    An air of cautious optimism characterised last month's meeting in London on advancing a new agenda for AIDS research. Laboratory, clinical, and social scientists from North America, South America, and Europe gathered at the Ciba Foundation to take stock of research performed so far and to set an agenda for the future.

    The optimism stemmed largely from progress in basic scientific research. Several speakers confirmed our now intricate understanding of viral dynamics. David Ho from New York presented new data suggesting that the turnover of viruses and CD4 cells is even more rapid than previously estimated. The life cycle of a virus—from the time it enters one cell to the time it enters the next—seems to be 1.2 days, with 10 billion new virions being made each day. This clearly presents an enormous burden for the immune system; but data from the Massachusetts General Hospital, on patients who have been infected with HIV for over 15 years with no symptoms, no decrease in CD4 cells, and extremely low viral loads, suggest that the immune system can contain the …

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