A fascinating discourse on how medical science is zeroing in on an HIV vaccine after several anomalous triumphs.
With the AIDS epidemic now in its fourth decade, award-winning HIV research scientist Holt believes “we are only just beginning to understand our shared evolution with viruses.” Still, she offers increasing hope for a cure by spotlighting the two male “Berlin Patients” and several others, including a child, who chemically bombarded and expunged the HIV virus from their bodies. The author tracks the enduring histories of these men—German-born Christian Hahn and Timothy Brown, an American—from the detection of their initial viral prodromes to the astonishing depletion of HIV-infected cells from their bodies, prompting clinical trials and controversial research. Holt also profiles HIV specialists Heiko Jessen, Bruce Walker and David Ho as part of a frustrated yet galvanized group of professionals working toward developing new therapies to either counterbalance HIV’s onslaught on a vulnerable immune system or, ideally, discover a way to have the virus coexist with its human host. The author includes research that field experts consider “pertinent and exciting,” and the result makes for educative, thought-provoking and frequently alarming reading. Textbook descriptions on the intricacies of HIV’s tactical viral transmission commingle with a timeline spanning from an era when a seropositive test result equaled a sure death sentence. The author also examines controversial trials of AZT drug therapies, stem cell transplants, and the genetic suppression and inexplicable eradication of the virus from a fortunate few. Holt further supports her subject with graphic illustrations and a well-balanced assortment of interviews and opinions from doctors, genetic scientists and informed researchers, all unified in the global battle to find a cure.
An astute AIDS retrospective blended with contemporary updates on aggressive medical strategies.