For Some, AIDS Even Quicker, Craftier

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NEW YORK: Apparently HIV is even craftier -- and in some cases, far more devastating -- than was previously suspected. In Friday’s issue of the journal Science, researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland announced that one in 10 people has a special gene that accelerates the devastation that HIV wreaks. A person with the variant who becomes infected with the virus could be dead within a few years, and the drug treatments that have prolonged so many lives would be useless. And in nearby Washington, D.C., researchers found that HIV can hide in the urinary tract, undetectable in a blood test -- one person in 1,000 has AIDS and doesn’t even know it.

Of course, in the uphill battle against AIDS any discovery, even a disheartening one, counts as progress. The reasons why the virus never makes it from the urinary tract to the bloodstream, or how one gene could regulate, like a dimmer switch, the course of a disease –- those are answers that could one day lead to a vaccine. "It is going to be incredibly interesting," Dr. Gregory Stock at the UCLA School of Medicine told the New York Times. "We're entering a renaissance." And the chilling urinary-tract discovery already has a benefactor -- Calypte Biomedical Corp., which makes a urine test that detects the small traces of virus, was up $1 to 3 7/8 on the news in overnight trading. Sadly, there’s no shortage of customers.