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Virus shows signs of thwarting HIV



Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Virus shows signsof thwarting HIV

BOSTON -- An ancient virus that has tagged along harmlessly through human evolution appears to improve people's chances of surviving AIDS by blocking HIV's ability to infect blood cells, new research shows.

Several recent studies have found that people who are infected with the recently discovered bug, called GB virus C, are substantially less likely than usual to die from AIDS. Experts assumed that GBV-C somehow interferes with HIV, but just how this protection works has been a mystery.

Now experts think they have the answer: It thwarts HIV's ability to infect cells by wiping away one of the chemical docking posts that HIV needs to make its entry.

"There is not a way for the virus to get into the cells. The doors are gone," said Carolyn Williams of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Whether this is more than a medical curiosity, however, is still unclear. Some researchers say they would be reluctant to intentionally give GBV-C to people with HIV, because they fear the approach could backfire, ultimately doing more harm than good.

Texas murder case

HOUSTON -- On the eve of her wedding anniversary, dentist Clara Harris was told to remove her wedding band so she could be taken into custody after her murder conviction for mowing down her cheating husband.

On Valentine's Day, Harris and her husband, David, an orthodontist, would have been married 11 years -- a union the victim's mother had described as "a marriage made in heaven."

Jurors found Harris, 45, guilty of murder for running down her 44-year-old husband with her Mercedes Benz. The panel was expected to begin deliberating her sentence today.

The murder conviction could result in a sentence of five years to life in prison. But if the jury accepts the argument that she acted with "sudden passion," she could receive a lesser sentence. If she receives less than 10 years, she will be eligible for probation.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, which began after the conviction Thursday, defense attorneys asked jurors to give Harris no more than 10 years probation.

Defense attorneys said she acted with "sudden passion" because she was stunned to find her husband leaving with his mistress from the same hotel where the Harrises were married.

Search for Americanscontinues in Colombia

FLORENCIA, Colombia -- The United States searched for four Americans and a Colombian who were reportedly on an intelligence mission when their U.S.-government plane crashed in a southern region swarming with leftist rebels.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said the single-engine Cessna Caravan went down Thursday morning while trying to make an emergency landing in Florencia, near an area dotted with fields that produce coca, the main ingredient of cocaine.

American officials refused to discuss the flight's purpose or identify those aboard. The Colombian Army's high command said the plane was on an intelligence mission, and Colombian investigators reported seeing two bodies in the wreckage.

U.S. officials flew in to the region to try to determine what occurred after radio contact with the plane was lost eight minutes before its scheduled landing in Florencia, 235 miles southwest of Bogota.

Associated Press




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