Why is HIV incurable?

virus-1913183_1920This is something that’s come up often as I talk to people about my Honours project. “Why can’t we cure HIV?” It’s been around since the 50s, although it was only identified in 1983.

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Black hole image captured for first time

Scientists yesterday presented the first ever image of a black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy taken on the Event Horizon Telescope. Black holes have been commonly accepted for a long time, but this is the first visual glimpse we have had of one.

Credit: xkcd
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New HIV vaccine trial

The new HIV vaccine candidate: BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140. Picture by Clare Garrard.

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) yesterday announced the start of a Phase I clinical trial for a new HIV vaccine candidate: BG505 SOSIP.664 gp140. Long string of letters and numbers aside, this three-pronged trimer construct of the HIV Envelope protein is the first complete and stable structure which resembles the form that the protein takes when HIV is circulating in the body.

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Reaching for mental fitness

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The last couple of months have seen an increase in conversations around mental health following the terrible news of the suicide of UCT Health Sciences Dean, Bongani Mayosi. This post has been sitting as a half finished draft for months – ironically because of my own dip into depression. I thought this would be a good time to finish it, as the conversations around mental health open up and as I recover and learn firsthand what it is indeed that contributes to a healthy mind.

Everyone knows about the benefits of exercise. It’s this cure-all thing that can make you happier, improve your cholesterol, give you a healthy heart, make you stronger and generally raise your immunity. (And if you call now, we’ll even throw in longer life!) If we get sick or injure ourselves, we take the time to rest and look after ourselves. But it’s far less common to talk about how we keep our minds fit and functional. Continue reading

The whys and hows of attracting young children to science in South Africa

This is an article I wrote for the New Age on behalf of Pint of Science South Africa:

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“Why?” It’s the question that drives parents insane. “Why do leaves turn yellow?” “Because the weather is changing.” “Why?” “Because our part of the earth is moving further away from the sun.” “Why?” And it goes on. This inquisitive nature may drive parents to distraction, but the constant search for answers and the never-ending streams of “why” are the very things that should be nurtured in young children in order for the next generation of inventors and scientists to blossom. Continue reading