Chinese experts ask why AIDS patients resistant to SARS

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Contradicting the pronouncements of HIV co-discoverer Luc Montagnier, Chinese AIDS experts have told a US journalist that they believe people with AIDS receiving treatment in Chinese hospitals are less vulnerable than the rest of the population to SARS.

Laurie Garrett, a respected reporter on HIV and emerging infections, yesterday reported that Chinese experts are investigating why no AIDS patients treated on the same floor of a Guangzhou hospital as SARS patients contracted the disease, despite regular traffic between the two wards by health care workers who later succumbed to SARS.

Speculation has centred on the potential protective effect of immunosuppression. So far, reports Garrett, corticosteroids are the most effective treatment identified for SARS, a disease in which destruction of lung tissue appears to be driven by an over-activation of the immune system. Corticosteroids suppress the immune activation.

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