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Do we know why mosquitoes do not transmit the HIV-AIDS virus?

  1. Jun 12, 2010 #1
    Do we know why mosquitoes do not transmit the HIV-AIDS virus?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2010 #2
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    have a look here..
    http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~insects/aids.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Jun 12, 2010 #3
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    This is an interesting article but the theoretical impossibility of transmission would also apply to the virus that causes yellow fever. Not all viruses are alike, but there is no indication why the AIDS virus would be any less transmissible than other mostquito-borne viruses.

    I completely accept that AIDS is not mosquito-transmitted. I just don't understand what sets the AIDS (retrovirus, I think) pathogen apart from other nm-sized organisms. Thanks.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Jun 12, 2010 #4


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    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    Yellow fever is able to infect mosquito cells and replicate inside of mosquitoes, an ability that HIV has not evolved. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that HIV infects a much more specific class of cells than yellow fever.
  6. Jun 12, 2010 #5
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    it is the second mechanism that seems to be an unknown. how would you go about proving this?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    "2. In the second mechanism, a mosquito would ...feed on an HIV carrier and be interrupted after it had successfully drawn blood. Instead of resuming...on its original host, the mosquito would select an AIDS-free person to complete the meal.... equine infectious anemia is transmitted to horses by biting flies in this manner."

    I don't understand what you are suggesting should be proved. The article says these mechanisms are used in other settings and not used in HIV transmission. We don't have to prove it--it doesn't happen. I gather that this mechanism has been shown in equine anemia context. Sorry if I am misunderstanding your question.
  8. Jun 13, 2010 #7
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    how do you know that?
  9. Jun 13, 2010 #8
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    In theory mosquitoes can be capable of transmit HIV, if you look really deep probably you can find a rare case were this happens. One evidence that this are not common is the epidemiological data of African countries, if this kind of transmission occurs the epidemic data will be far more worst.
  10. Jun 13, 2010 #9
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    This is very clear, from the epidemiology alone, and from basic biology. To ask this shows a fundamental lack of understanding as to how insect-borne disease DOES find a transmissible intermediary.


    Here is some research that will allow you to understand which insects make proper vectors for disease, and further research can explain why: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/text18/humanvectors.html

    I doubt you could find a single case of mosquito-borne HIV that you could possibly confirm, however close you look. HIV requires more than a single virion to cause infection.
  11. Jun 13, 2010 #10
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    that would really depend on the rate of transmission.

    that's the trouble with epidemiology. if it's a rare event, you probably won't see the outliers, or if you do, you'll just reject them as outliers.
  12. Jun 13, 2010 #11
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    In the context of what is a massive worldwide pandemic, yes that can happen. The nature of HIV infection, and the feeding habits of mosquito added to the epidemiology makes it pretty much impossible however. I hear a lot about the use of needles in IV drug use, but in that case blood is drawn into the chamber of the syringe first, not just a light coating on the needles. Remember also, that sharing needles tends to be a repeated event, allowing for infection, not just a miraculous mosquito. A mosquito's saliva is going to rapidly digest HIV (just protein to the bug) and the feeding apparatus is retracting and cleaned with saliva.

    Maybe if a mosquito fed on someone with full-blown AIDS and a massive viral count, then flew directly into an open wound on another body seconds after feeding you COULD be infected... even then I wouldn't bet on it.
  13. Jun 13, 2010 #12
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    Biology is still so much diverse, the fact that you find a single case doesn’t means this happens in a significant number of cases.
    Impossible? No. Improbable? Yes. Neglect able? Yes.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  14. Jun 13, 2010 #13
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    i'm sure it's an extremely low probability. but it would still make me think twice in certain social situations, as i am a mosquito magnet.
  15. Jun 13, 2010 #14
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    Buy some lottery tickets… you will have better chances.
  16. Jun 13, 2010 #15
    Re: mosquitoes/HIV

    Obviously there is no study that is going to say, "this is impossible", but Proton Soup: it's basically impossible. It just is not that easy to be infected with HIV! You are essentially talking about a near-microscopic needle stick, but one that has been cleansed with enzyme-rich saliva.

    Maybe we need to look away from the bugs, and to the rate of transmission from REAL needle-sticks:


    Note the risk factors:

    So, if you're in Africa working in palliative care for people dying of AIDS with massive viral counts, you need a mosquito with a trocar for a proboscis, and glistening red as it fails to clean itself and them plunges into you. You will die of malaria, or dengue, or old age and paper cuts from Alex's lottery tickets before you contract HIV from a mosquito.
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