Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

 Chem 432


 Spring 2009


 © R. Paselk 2009


Virological mayhem. Read the summary/evaluation of the seminal articles in the understanding of HIV and in particular the disease state AIDS by Wei et. al. and Ho et. al. [Nature 373 pp. 117­126 (12 January 1995)]. in Nature News and Views (p. 102 of the same issue)

Consider the following:

Recently researchers may have determined why most humans are unable to defend themselves from HIV and come down with AIDS. Read the News article in Nature by Erika Check, "Light shed on battle against HIV," Nature. 442 (24 August 2006) pp 852-3.

Other articles you may find interesting in light of the above include the articles below. Select and read at least one of them:

Retroviral Mutation and Evolution. A discussion of the generation of diversity in retroviral infections is found in: Overbaugh, Julie and Charles R. M. Bangham. "Selection Forces and Constraints on Retroviral Sequence Variation,"Science. 292 (11 May 2001) pp 1106-9.

HIV and Evolution. An interesting perspective and analysis of HIV in evolutionary terms is placed in perspective by Stephen R. Palumbi in his article "Humans as the World's Greatest Evolutionary Force", Science. 293 (7 September 2001) pp 1786-90.

Finally, feel free to bring in additional perspectives from current work (e.g., the Spring 2006 headlines that AIDS in infants has been "cured" by currrent drug therapies and what this really means, or the recent "single pill" therapy).

Things to Consider

Briefly address or answer the following:

  1. The actions of the various drugs-what they are doing.
  2. The viral responses (types of mutations, enzymes involved) to the drugs and how these responses were determined (techniques).
  3. The conclusions from this research regarding: the nature of the HIV infection, how HIV responds to challenges, why HIV always "wins," and implications for clinical control of this virus.
  4. Why are most humans unable to defend themselves against the HIV virus?
  5. Respond to the following "controversial" statements:
    1. The AIDS epidemics in the US and Africa resulted from evolution of the HIV virus in response to human societal and behavioral changes (identify them).*
    2. Circumcision in men increases the spread of AIDS due to increased infectivity (examples?).**

* A. Sinicco, et. al. "Is the clinical course of HIV-1 changing? Cohort study" BMJ 1997;314:1232 (26 April) []; See also the response by Kholoud Porter. BMJ 1997;315:1236 (8 November) []

A review of the origin and evolution of aids is available on-line: Janis Faye Hutchinson. "THE BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION OF HIV" Annual Review of Anthropology. 30. Annual Reviews Inc. Palo Alto. (2001). pp 85-108. [ available via HSU library subscription]

** Seppa, N. "Better-Off Circumcised?" Science News 165 (April 3, 2004) pp 212-213. Caldwell, John C and Pat Caldwell. "The African AIDS Epidemic." Scientific American (March 1996) pp 62-68. New studies seem to have confirmed that circumcision is very effective, check out summaries of research in Africa ( and in India ( Many more references are available via a quick Goggle search, including articles refuting the protection of circumcision, but most are older and less convincing.

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Last modified 26 March 2009