This article was published on April 13th, 2015
Many northern Europeans and their decedents are immune to HIV. Up to 13% of people from Northern Europe are immune to HIV, and up to 10% of the population of the United States and Canada are partially immune. The gene is called CCR5, and it inhibits HIV from infecting a person.
If you have the CCR5 gene from both parents, you would be considered immune to HIV. If one of your parents has passed the gene to you, then you would be partially immune, reducing your changes by about 70%.
Being partially immune means that you do not have as many receptors to allow the HIV virus to enter your body, greatly reducing your risk. Should someone who is partially immune become infected, they would be considered a ‘slow progressor’, meaning they would not get sick from HIV for many years.
For someone who is already HIV positive, they may find knowing they are partially immune and would be less likely to experience difficulties as a result of having HIV. Some HIV positive people who are partially immune have worked with their physician to reduce their HIV medication and maintain an undetectable viral load count.
How to get tested for HIV immunity
www.delta-32.com is a website that provides the test kit (a cotton swab), that you move around in your cheek and mail back to the company. They will then conduct a series of tests and send back the results. The cost is $199 CDN in Canada and $199 USD in the United States.
Why get tested?
Some people may change their sexual behaviours and activities if they knew they were immune to HIV. Some people will worry less about sex and HIV if they know they are immune or partially immune. You have to decide if you wish to know if you are immune to HIV, and if it would be helpful for you.
The FDA has recently approved the use of inserting the CCR5 genes into HIV positive patients to explore a cure for HIV.
Nothing is 100%. In 2002 it was found there were rare cases of ‘immune’ persons who seroconverted and became HIV positive. The chances of becoming HIV positive if you are immune to HIV are extremely low but are not impossible.