‘Natural’ resistance to HIV: is the evidence good enough to design an effective vaccine?

Paul Palumbo, Joan Skurnick, Christine Rohowsky-Kochan, and Donald Louria

What is the evidence for a protective immune response to HIV that supports the quest for a prophylactic vaccine? During the early years of the epidemic, there was little acceptance of the notion of natural resistance and scant evidence that the kind of resistance that would prevent infection could be generated. More attention should have been focused on the early studies of sexual partners of haemophiliacs, most of whom remained uninfected despite repeated exposure. The research community focused (quite appropriately) on virus strain, genital viral load, infectivity per contact, and ability of the virus to propagate in mucosal cells, but we should have suspected then that some of the noninfectivity related to host resistance. We will refer to this as “natural immunity or resistance” primarily to distinguish it from immunity induced by a vaccine.

Source: AIDScience Vol. 2, No. 11, June 2002

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