Why Do Some Diseases Last Forever?

Everyone knows why AIDS lasts forever. It attacks your immune system. But there are alot of other diseases that last forever that don’t attack the immune system as far as I know: Herpes, Hepatitis, Epstein Barr and many more I’m sure. Why are these diseases in effect incurable? Why doesn’t the human immune system just eliminate them like it does the common cold?

Thank you in advance to all who reply :slight_smile:

Each one has a unique way to avoid the immune system, just like HIV does. Your immune system can only recognize as dangerous things that it has learned are dangerous. Many elements that cause chronic diseases are recognized as self and therefore not dangerous by our immune systems.

Other diseases are basically caused by an inappropriate immune response to self. MS is caused by the immune system attacking the nerve linings because the immune system doesn’t recognize those cells as self.

If you want the long answer, take a course in immunology…you’ll learn things that will scare the crap out of you.

Amen to that.

Most of the viruses that manage to stick with you forever hide out in your nerve cells (which, in general, don’t die till you do) or your immune cells, some of which also stick around for years and years.

The way viruses work is to sneak their DNA into yours, and trick your cells into making a bunch of viral proteins. Because they use your own cells to reproduce, viral infections tend to be much tougher to treat than bacterial ones. Some viruses manage to just lie dormant in your DNA after the initial infection’s taken care of, but then reactivate later when the right trigger comes along.

Hmmm…Antigen Location: Biohazard Level 3

Do a little immunology? I took a quarter of immunology just for the fun of it. It was fun, but I moved on to things I could actually understand without getting the crap scared out of me.

Yeah, I took microbiology and immunology courses while gettng my degree in physiology, and now I’m almost a laboratory technologist (finishing the internship and getting certification in June).

I wouldn’t say that it freaks me out so much as it fascinates me. There’s nothing to a virus, really… and it can kill you dead so easily! And most of the damage is caused by your own immune system overreacting. I can’t understand how anyone can learn a little of this and not want to keep studying it forever. But I’m nerdy that way. :slight_smile:

The diseases you all mentioned hide within your own cells, offering no target for your immune system to attack. They can go dormant for years, then reactivate in response to signals that still aren’t very well understood.