The Scientist and the Cure
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to solve this mystery, she embarked on a study of 32 exposed uninfected
men. The study was of such great scientific import as well as such
general interest that it drew the attention of a writer for The
New Yorker, who described Giorgi's research in a lengthy story in
July 1998. At the time the results were not yet known but seemed
promising. Scientists had found only one trait -- a genetic defect
associated with resistance -- but this mutation was found in only
about 4 percent of uninfected men. There wasn't any explanation
for the majority.
I started my study on cellular immunity to HIV, I thought everybody
who had been exposed would have it," says Giorgi. "If I looked in
the lymph nodes, I thought I would find this in everybody. But I
didn't find it convincingly in anybody. If these men are protected,
it's not because of an immune response localized to the lymph nodes.
Or if it were ever there, it didn't last very long."
if she was disappointed by that finding, Giorgi retreats into one
of her long pauses. Sitting at her desk, her head cupped in one
hand, she looks away, her dark brows furrowing. Giorgi likes to
consider questions carefully and often takes several minutes before
she answers. "It just makes me more puzzled," she finally says.
"Puzzled about whether it's a short-term immunity so we don't see
it, or puzzled about whether we're looking for the wrong thing.
I don't know.'
by the time The New Yorker article was published, Giorgi had more
pressing concerns. On the day the magazine came out, she was in
a hospital bed, racked with nausea, an IV dripping chemo drugs into