In the 20 years since the first cases of AIDS were detected, scientists say they have learned more about this viral disease than any other.
Yet Peter Piot, who directs the United Nations AIDS program, and Stefano Vella of Rome, president of the International AIDS Society, and other experts say reviewing unanswered questions could prove useful as a measure of progress for AIDS and other diseases.
Among the important broader scientific questions that remain:
A long-standing belief is that cancer cells constantly develop and are held in check by a healthy immune system. But AIDS has challenged that belief. People with AIDS are much more prone to certain cancers like non-Hodgkins lymphomas and Kaposi’ s sarcoms, but not to breast, colon and lung, the most common cancers in the United States. This pattern suggests that an impaired immune system, at least the type that occurs in AIDS, does not allow common cancers to develop.