The Noble prize in Medicine is this year shared between Harald zur Hausen from Germany for discovering that human papilloma virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, and France's Francoise Barre- Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier from France for discovering the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The discovery of HIV have paved the way for understanding the nature of this "thing" (viruses are generally not defined as lives). And the more we learn about the virus the more distressed we feel, as few "things" on our planet can compete with this virus' ingenious design.
HIV have several traits which makes it stand out among pathogens. Firstly, the virus attacks the very white blood corpuscles that are suppose to get rid of viruses (i.e the T-cells). Secondly, the virus have an incubation time of many years, which allows the carrier to infect others before discovering that he/she have the virus. Thirdly, the virus is very mutation prone and mutates virtually every time it replicates. The last trait makes it quite impossible to catch HIV with vaccines as the virus simple evolves away into safety whenever some new HIV-medicine is tested. One could say that HIV is perfect in its imperfection.
Considering the above, one needs to understand that the battle against HIV will not be won in the research lab, but it have to be won out in the field, among people. Changing the attitude towards the plague of our time, perhaps with the help of ABC (Abstinent, Being faithful, Condomise), needs to be of highest priority if we will be able to turn the ship around. The first step would be for politicians and leaders in HIV-infested country to start talking about and admitting to the problems with HIV/AIDS, like for example former South African president Thabo Mbeki has done (see video clip). He should have been awarded this year's Nobel prize in medicine for his contribution in fighting HIV/AIDS.
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