More on genetic immunity to HIV
http://www.delta-32.com/ This website will now give you the test for HIV immunity.
The map below show where people are most likely to be immune to HIV.
Some people are immune to HIV (well, almost totally immune). There are thousands of organizations giving public messages about HIV, but very few will talk about genetic immunity to HIV. The general understanding of immunity to HIV is that some 1% to 3 % of the population is immune to HIV because of the genes they carry. People fromSwedenorNorthern Europeseem to be more likely to have this genetic immunity.
However, there are a few people who have become HIV+ even though they were supposed to be immune. This is an extremely small number, but the immunity is not 100%. When I talk about immunity in this article, I, am therefore referring to almost total immunity.
I first heard about HIV immunity back in the mid/late 90s. At that time, a gay guy who I knew socially told me he was a researcher who was doing research into genetic immunity to HIV. He told me that he felt that the only way someone who had the CCR5 gene (the name of the gene linked to immunity) from both parents was for them to have the virus in the anus from someone who had fairly advanced stage of HIV. I have lost track of this guy, but the last I heard he was still working on this research in theUSon the East Coast.
To be immune to HIV both of your parents must have the CCR5 gene. IF only one of your parents have this gene, then you will be less likely to become HIV+, and if you do become HIV+ then you are more likely to be a non-progresser, which means that HIV will not have as severe effect on your body. About 10%-15% of the population fall in this group of being less likely to become infected. One study from 2001 in Science Daily reported that persons with the CCR5 gene from one parent “had a 70% reduced risk of HIV infection”. I have talked to lots of guys who say: “I have had lots of unsafe sex and I am still negative so I must be immune”. Well it may be, or it may also be that instead of 50 time of unsafe sex it may take 400 times before this person becomes infected.
I found a story by the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Inc. (2007) describing an Australian company, delta32.com.au, who advertised on Gaydar.com.au to offer CCR5 gene testing. Two organizations complained that the company should not test gay guys for the CCR5 gene, and the website was soon closed. Many other websites I found were closed down, or did not reply to my emails. There appears to have been pressure to make sure people (gay men) are not allowed or encouraged to find out if they are immune from getting HIV.
Despite this, it is possible to get tested for the gene that causes HIV immunity (CCR5). But before we go there, there are a few important questions to consider. These questions are: Would you want to know if you were immune to HIV? What would you do with that knowledge? Would you stop using condoms? Would you believe someone who told you they were immune to HIV so they do not have to use a condom to fuck you? What about STIs? How much would it be worth for you to find out if you were immune to HIV? These are all interesting and difficult questions to sort through. But the real question, I believe is: should you have the right to know that you might be immune to HIV? Is it better that we do not know that HIV immunity exists? Does this make a better and safer society? I have no clear answers to these thought provoking questions. But I tend to believe that honesty and transparency makes for a better society. I do not think there are many times that hiding information from the public is a good idea.
So, I did a great deal of searching online to find someplace you might find out if you had the CCR5 gene and if from one parent (partial immunity) or both parents (almost complete immunity).
IF you are an HIV+ guy, would you want to know if you had one of the genes meaning that you are less likely to have complications from HIV? I am sure there are some people that think that people should not be allowed to know if they have the CCR5 gene. But if you are not one of those and are interested, here is how you can find out if you have the CCR5 gene from one or both parents.
There is a company in the UScalled “32andme” that does a broad range of genetic tests, including testing for the CCR5 gene. To order the kit, and instructions on how to send a saliva sample to the company in the US, go to https://www.23andme.com/store. The test costs $209 US (so that is about 50 cents Canadian LOL). To see an example of the report you will receive, look at: https://www.23andme.com/health/Resistance-to-HIV-AIDS/ . I assume there are other places that test for HIV immunity, but I did not find them. I hope that readers will post addresses of other places to get tested for CCR5 at xtra.ca as a comment to this column.
I wonder if the reason people do not hear much about HIV immunity is that some will worry that it will perhaps give people a licence to not practice safe sex. If there is more condomless sex, then there is the chance of spread of STIs. However, it is important to remember that we are only talking about a small number of guys who will be immune to HIV. Although we should find in the gay community that older negative guys who have frequent condomless sex are much more likely to have the CCR5 gene because many of those without it protection will have become positive or will have already died.