Differences in viral strains and host factors influence the incidence and clinical outcome of HIV infection. Among host factors, the HLA class I molecules determine the specificity and repertoire of the immune response, but the precise nature of HLA associations with HIV have been unclear. In the June 22 Nature Medicine, Elizabeth Trachtenberg and colleagues at the Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland show that rare HLA supertypes confer protection against HIV disease progression (Nature Medicine, DOI:10.1038/nm893, June 22, 2003).

Trachtenberg et al. analyzed the association of the discrete HLA class I supertypes with HIV disease progression rates in a population of HIV-infected men. They observed that HLA supertypes alone and in combination conferred a strong differential advantage in responding to HIV infection, independent of the contribution of single HLA alleles that associate with progression of the disease. In addition, Trachtenberg et al. showed that the...

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