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HIV is totally selling out, becoming less deadly in bid to gain mainstream acceptance

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Scientists report that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may be rapidly evolving into a less deadly, less communicable form. However, they say, this does not mean the virus is no longer dangerous.

According to the BBC, a University of Oxford team has found that HIV is getting “watered down” as it makes adaptations to the human immune system. The very mutability and adaptability that makes the virus so elusive to eradication efforts, these scientists say, is costing it in terms of its ability to reproduce itself.

The Oxford team published a paper regarding the rapid evolution of HIV in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and presented their findings on Dec. 1 to mark World AIDS Day, 2014.

HIV is a retrovirus, the first of its kind ever discovered. Retroviruses have a freakish ability to adapt and mutate, which is why they are so diabolically hard to treat and to prevent by way of vaccines.

Every time the body throws a new immunological weapon its way, HIV mutates to overcome it. The virus has even found a way to “hide” inside dormant cells for years, enabling it to return years later in patients who appeared to have been completely cleared of the virus.

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As it travels from host to host, however, the virus occasionally encounters someone with a particularly hardy immune system.

Oxford’s Prof. Philip Goulder said, “[Then] the virus is trapped between a rock and hard place, it can get flattened or make a change to survive and if it has to change then it will come with a cost.”

That “cost” is a compromised ability to replicate itself, which means that not only is it less able to cause full-blown AIDS, it’s less able to spread to new hosts.

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Furthermore, antiretroviral drug cocktails appear to be most effectively killing and slowing down the deadliest and most aggressively infectious strains of HIV.

The Daily Mail reported that the Oxford team tracked 2,000 women with HIV in Botswana and South Africa.

Women in Botswana had a high occurrence of a gene called HLA-B*57. HIV reproduces more slowly in the bodies of patients with HLA-B*57 and therefore progresses less rapidly to AIDS and is less easily spread.

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In order to survive in those patients’ systems, said Goulder, it had to make some compromises, shedding certain traits — i.e., its ability to rapidly replicate itself — in order to stay alive.

Cardiff University infectious disease specialist Andrew Freedman said, “By comparing the epidemic in Botswana with that which occurred somewhat later in South Africa, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the effect of this evolution is for the virus to become less virulent, or weaker, over time.”

Prof Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, told the BBC, “If the trend continues then we might see the global picture change — a longer disease causing much less transmission.”

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“HIV adaptation to the most effective immune responses we can make against it comes at a significant cost to its ability to replicate,” said Goulder. “Anything we can do to increase the pressure on HIV in this way may allow scientists to reduce the destructive power of HIV over time.”

Watch video about this story, embedded below:

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Listen to audio of Oxford’s Prof. Dausey explaining the team’s findings:


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Republican analyst says Trump is ‘threatened by’ being challenged by women: ‘It hurts his ego’

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According to one Republican commentator, President Donald Trump's decision to lash out at four Congresswomen of color stems from his inability to handle being challenged by women.

In a segment with MSNBC host Ali Velshi, Rina Shah, who runs Republican Women for Progress, said that she's been the target of racist attacks from Trump supporters ever since she announced she wouldn't support him.

"I believe that what this president is doing is fanning the flames," she said. "He cannot denounce white supremacy, white nationalism. This is a moment in which he could have kept his mouth shut. You know, this tit-for-tat with [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi (D-CA) and 'The Squad,' he didn’t need to engage in it. If I was advising the president, if I were one of his advisers, I would have said stay out of it. But he doesn't listen to anyone around him."

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Shep Smith goes off on Trump’s racist attacks: ‘A misleading and xenophobic eruption of distraction and division’

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Fox News newsman Shep Smith began his Monday show by calling President Donald Trump's racist comments about four congresswomen of color "xenophobic" and a "distraction" for the purpose of "division."

"Our reporting begins with President Trump’s latest misleading and xenophobic eruption of distraction and division," Smith opened with. "Directed this time at a group of minority women in the United States Congress. 'Go back to where you came from,' that is what the president wrote on Twitter just yesterday and today he called them haters of America and Jews. The president is defending those statements and when asked if he thought the tweets might be racist, his response, 'Not at all.'"

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Even neo-Nazis think Trump’s racism ‘goes too far sometimes’: Investigative reporter

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An investigative reporter that has embedded with neo-Nazis and Klan members explained Monday that President Donald Trump’s language echoes what these far-right groups have been saying for years.

In an MSNBC panel discussion, Vegas Tenold explained that when Trump says things like this it's almost expected at this point because he's been saying racist things since the birther campaign.

"He’s a racist; we have known for a long time that he is a racist," Tenold said. "'Go back to where you came from,' it’s peak racism, it’s, you know, the original form of racism. He’s been on this thing for a long time."

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