THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- A stronger immune
response occurs in women who have been infected with two different
strains of HIV by two different sexual partners than in women
infected with one strain of HIV, a new study finds.
This type of dual infection is called HIV "superinfection."
The finding that a mixture of different HIV strains may be one
way to trigger a more powerful immune system antibody response may
prove useful in efforts to develop an HIV vaccine in the fight
against AIDS, according to the researchers at the Fred Hutchinson
Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
The researchers tracked the immune activity of 12 superinfected
women in Kenya for five years. Compared to singly infected women,
the superinfected women had about 70 percent more neutralizing
antibodies (agents the immune system uses to fight invaders) and
their antibodies' ability to neutralize HIV was almost 50 percent
The study appears online March 29 in the journal
"We found that women who had been infected twice not only had more potent antibody responses, but some of these women had 'elite' antibody activity, meaning that they had a broad and potent ability to neutralize a wide variety of strains of HIV over a sustained period of time," senior author Julie Overbaugh said in a research center news release.
Only about 1 percent of HIV-infected people are "elite
neutralizers," the authors noted.
"Individuals who become superinfected with a second virus from a different partner represent a unique opportunity for studying the antibody response and may provide insights into the process of developing broad neutralizing antibodies that could inform HIV-vaccine design," Overbaugh said.
It is estimated that more than 1.1 million Americans have HIV
and someone becomes newly infected about every 10 minutes,
according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Many experts consider an HIV vaccine to be the best way to offer
long-term protection against HIV but efforts to develop such a
vaccine have achieved only limited success.
The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center has more about