A physicist and his biologist son destroyed a common virus using a superfast pulsing laser, without harming healthy cells. The discovery could lead to new treatments for viruses like HIV that have no cure.
“We have demonstrated a technique of using a laser to excite vibrations on the shield of a virus and damage it, so that it’s no longer functional,” said Kong-Thon Tsen, a professor of physics at Arizona State University. “We’re testing it on HIV and hepatitis right now.”
Knowledge is awesome.
Now, an obvious question. If it’s possible that this will work and cure HIV – still a long shot given the apparent early stage of this research – how is it reasonable for parents to circumcise a son today to reduce his risk of becoming infected with HIV after he becomes sexually active?
Many parents seem determined that we can’t presume there will be a cure/vaccine before their son becomes sexually active. The more rational position is that we can’t presume there will not be a cure/vaccine in the decade-and-a-half before he becomes sexually active. Science involves a never-ending process of learning more. Anyone who doubts it needs only to observe the drastic improvement in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in the last two decades.
Circumcision is not a now-or-never surgery at birth. If the boy is left intact, the overwhelming likelihood is still that he will not become HIV-positive. And that’s before a reminder that researchers only looked at circumcision’s possibility to reduce the risk of HIV in adult males undergoing voluntary circumcision. The effect on males from forced circumcision as an infant remains unstudied, although anecdotal evidence in the United States suggests that condoms would be a much wiser strategy. It’s more effective to teach him to protect himself than to surgically remove parts of his genitals.