HIV Sufferers Lose Immunity to Smallpox Despite AIDS Drugs, Vaccine in Childhood

HIV sufferers lose immunity to smallpox even though they had been vaccinated against the disease as children and have had a lot of their immune system restored with antiretroviral treatment, based on research published in the Journal of Infectious Illnesses.

Known as HIV-associated immune amnesia, the finding could explain why HIV sufferers still are likely to have shorter lives than their HIV-negative counterparts despite being on an antiretroviral remedy. The study follows different research recently printed in the journals Science and Science Immunology that discovered the immune systems of youngsters who contracted measles similarly “forgot” their immunity towards other illnesses similar to influenza.

Mark Slifka, Ph.D., a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, led the research.

Slifka and his colleagues reviewed the T-cell and antibody responses of a total of 100 HIV-positive and HIV-negative women who had been vaccinated against smallpox in their youth.

The analysis team selected smallpox because its last known U.S. case was in 1949, meaning research subjects haven’t too long ago been exposed to its virus, which would have triggered new T-cell and antibody responses.

They found the immune systems of HIV-positive women who had been on antiretroviral therapy had a limited response when their blood was exposed to the vaccina virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine.

Kids vaccinated against smallpox have CD4 T cells that remember the virus and respond in large numbers after they’re exposed again.