viruses

Are viral and fungal infections always a bad thing? Maybe not if you're a plant. In fact, if you're a plant trying to grow in the hot (65°; C) soils of Yellowstone National Park, you're going to need all the help you can get. A new study by Márquez, et.al. (1) found that a type of grass (Dichanthelium lanuginosum) is able to grow in the hot soils of Yellowstone National Park because it gets help from some friends. A fungal friend. And that fungal friend is infected with a virus. If you're not used to thinking in degrees centigrade, it's hard to grasp immediately ... Read more
Five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor (dubbed the Tripoli six) may be executed soon by the Libyan government for the crime of deliberately infecting over 400 children with HIV. If they did infect the children, this would be a horrendous crime. If they did not infect the children, it's the Libyan government that will be killing innocent people. The clock is ticking. Some of you might be wondering (I know I was): How exactly is molecular sequence data being used to solve the crime? Why are scientists and science bloggers claiming that the ... Read more
Random remembrance #1. December 1st is world AIDS day. On December 1st, I will mourn for my former colleagues, students and acquaintances who've died from AIDS. Random random reminder #2. Bloggers, Ron Hudson from the International Carnival of Pozivities will be putting together stories about AIDS and HIV. The next carnival isn't until Dec. 10th, but you can still submit. Random blog comment #3: After the last ... Read more
Did HIV become resistant to Atazanavir because of a genetic change? Was that genetic change inherited? Did HIV evolve? Can we explain why genetic changes at specific sites might help HIV escape the effects of the drug? Let's find out. All of the sequences in the image below (except for the first) come from HIV strains that were isolated from patients who took Atazanavir and no other protease inhibitors. All of the strains of HIV from patients were resistant to the drug. If an amino acid is different from other strains, the color at that position is changed. ... Read more
In which we see the results and come to our own conclusions. If you want to let other people tell you what's right and what's wrong, they will surely do so. Turn on the TV and hordes of happy actors bounce around, only too happy to help you purchase the right deodorant. Open your e-mail and everyone wants to share the best on-line pharmacy and investment guide. Ugh. I prefer making my own decisions, thank you very much. So, I want to give you a chance to look at the data and decide for yourself, if the data show HIV protease sequences changing over ... Read more
Let the experiment begin. We're experimenting with HIV in this series. And yes, you can try this at home! If you want to see where we've been and get an idea where we're going, here are the links. Part I. Meet HIV and learn how we're going to use it look at evolution. An introduction to the experiment and a link to a short flash movie on HIV. Part II. Instructions for doing the experiment. Part III. Look at the ... Read more

But that hasn't always been true.

When I was in college, I had part-time jobs drawing blood from patients in the university hospital and as a phlebotomist at local plasma center. Plus, I was a volunteer EMT on an ambulance crew. Needless to say, I saw plenty of blood. And those were the days when no one wore gloves. We used to be tested every few months for hepatitis, since it was pretty common for the hospital lab techs to get that, so I did worry about hepatitis.

When I went to graduate school, and realized that the hospital where I had worked, had been ... Read more

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