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Indians most vulnerable to AIDS

DNIS News Network - Recent studies have revealed that the Indian genetic make up is most susceptible to acquiring AIDS. This accounts for the vast increase in the number of AIDS patients every year.

Picture of the red ribbon symbolic of the fight against A.I.D.S.

Recent studies by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (A.I.I.M.S.) regarding AIDS have shown that Indians, because of their genetic make up, are more susceptible to getting AIDS as compared to people in the west. The immune response to H.I.V. among Indians is weaker because they possess more gene variants that accelerate the progression of H.I.V. to AIDS.

A.I.I.M.S. researchers studied two sets of genes that are involved in the body’s immune response to foreign bodies -- the human leukocyte antigens and chemokines. Gene variants among these sets of genes explained why H.I.V. is more rapidly lethal in some people, while in others it takes decades to cause AIDS.

The A.I.I.M.S. team concludes that since Indians are more vulnerable, treatment should be more aggressive. That may be the correct approach but there are alternatives to drug bombardment of patients. Another study by a biomedical company in California claims that scientists have devised a technique to permanently rewrite any gene in the human body. They call it ‘gene editing’, and the method has been used successfully to correct errors in the genes of a person with S.C.I.D. (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency). Since both S.C.I.D. and AIDS patients have poor immunity, perhaps the gene-editing technique would find successful application in correcting or editing AIDS-friendly gene variants in Indians.

In India, the most common mode of transmission of the H.I.V. virus is through unsafe heterosexual practices. The states with high prevalence of the disease are Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Nagaland. The spread of AIDS in the North East states is mainly due to shared drug injection syringes.

Update on AIDS (as of 31 March, 2005)
Surveillance for AIDS cases in India (Period of report: Since inception, that is, 1986 to 31 March, 2005)

Risk/transmission categories
No. of cases Percentage
Sexual 89064 85.76
Perinatal transmission 3713 3.58
Blood and blood products 2113 2.03
Injectable drug users 2649 2.55
Others (not specified) 6318 6.08
Total 103857 100.00

Distribution by age
Age group (in years) Male Female Total
0 - 14 2651 1836 4487
15 - 29 20655 13211 33866
30 - 49 45024 13215 58239
> 50 5690 1575 7265
Total 74020 29837 103857

(Source: http://www.nacoonline.org/facts_reportmarch.htm)