Estimated worldwide HIV infections: 52 129 132 at 4.45pm on Wednesday May 21 2003.

Scientists believe they are a step closer to developing an effective Aids vaccine after studying an unexpected response to the HI virus in individuals in Uganda who appear immune.

Just more than two dozen people near Lake Victoria have been found to remain uninfected though they have unprotected sex with HIV-positive partners.

Researchers found that the immune systems of the 28 resistant people behaved in surprising ways that it is hoped will point the way to a vaccine within 10 years.

Some of the resistant individuals had a lower measured immune response than infected partners, but their immune systems attacked the virus more effectively, keeping them HIV-negative.

The Ugandan results suggest resistant individuals are a more widespread and significant phenomenon than first realised, researchers said. They expect to cause a stir by calling on the scientific community to focus half of vaccine research on resistant individuals, a dramatic scaling up of what has been a minority interest.

Source: The Guardian

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