Model shows HIV spreads like Internet malware

HIV model shows virus spreads like Internet malware
HIV model shows virus spreads like Internet malware | Courtesy of
A novel model that illustrates HIV's progression shows the virus spreads in ways similar to Internet malware, proving that early treatment is crucial to preventing AIDS.

University College London (UCL) network security experts and HIV specialists have discovered HIV spreads using two methods: the bloodstream and direct cells. These two methods are similar to how certain types of malware spread through the Internet or local networks.

The technicians and health professionals collaborated to create a model that demonstrates this spread, which gradually progresses from HIV to AIDS. The model accurately predicted this progression when it was tested in a major clinical trial, which involved 17 HIV patients living in London.

"With this new model, we should be able to assess the effectiveness of drugs against different modes of HIV spread in real patients," UCL's study co-senior author Clare Jolly said. "This could prove invaluable when interpreting the results of drug trials to understand what works and why. Using computer models to understand processes that we cannot directly observe is common in the physical sciences and supports many fundamental theories. Our model provides strong evidence that cell-to-cell spread is an important part of HIV spread, and we hope to show this directly in future animal studies."

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