HIV/AIDS: How Mathematics Has Saved Lives

Alan Perelson
Theoretical Biology and Biophysics Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory

(March 14, 2007 5:30 PM - 6:30 PM)

HIV/AIDS: How Mathematics Has Saved Lives

Abstract

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS but on a time scale that averages about 10 years. This suggested that HIV infection was a slow process and thus treatment could be delayed. I will show how using mathematical modeling to interpret changes in HIV level after drug therapy was initiated led to a revolution in thinking about HIV and formed the basis for combination therapy that has made HIV a treatable disease. During the lecture I will discuss the basic biology of HIV, show how mathematical analysis of clinical data uncovered many other features of HIV biology, give an update on HIV vaccines and other unsolved problems in this field, and lastly show how the lessons learned about HIV have been applied to improve the understanding and treatment of hepatitis C virus infection.