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Attack of the Killer T's
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Attack of the Killer T's

These "Killer T's" are attacking a cancer cell, but cancer cells are not the only ones who should fear Killer T's

What Do You Mean My T Cells Have Been Drafted?

Before you were born, HIV and AIDS came to worldwide attention. This was the 1980s and a dark time for a lot of people who watched friends wither while researchers tried to explain what was going on. Every generation has its difficult issues to deal with. Since the 1980s, marvelous research has improved the prognosis for people infected with HIV. One of the more unexpected discoveries (at least to the general public) is that some people have natural resistance to this disease which was once seen as a sure death sentence. Researchers are hopeful that understanding these individuals' immune systems may lead to even greater medical advances.

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Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What are some of the ways people become infected with HIV? How can people minimize the risk of infection? How does HIV infection physically affect most people?
  2. Does HIV affect everyone the same way? Why or why not?
  3. What do researchers mean when they call someone an "elite controller?" Why are they interested in such people?
  4. How do Killer T cells fight HIV-infected cells? What happens to the infected cells? What other cells get responses similar to HIV-infected cells?
  5. How common is natural resistance to HIV? Do you think this resistance would be affected by exposure to other diseases? Why or why not?
  6. One way researchers are looking to use information about natural resistance is to stimulate natural responses to create an environment more favorable for the actions of vaccines or other treatments. What do you think about this approach to treating disease? How do you think this would affect the amount of drugs needed to treat HIV infection?

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