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HIV protein breaks biological clock

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10:15am, November 24, 2003

From New Orleans, at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

Among the many troubles HIV causes, is apparently a disruption of a person's daily, or circadian, rhythms. "Sleep seems to be a persistent problem" in HIV-infected people, notes John P. Clark of the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis–St. Paul.

The AIDS virus typically infects immune cells, so it hasn't been clear how it might alter the body's biological clock, which is controlled by a brain region called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). HIV, however, can infect brain cells within as little as a few weeks after a person has contracted the virus.

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