Using What We Know About Spam to Fight AIDS
Spammers are ingenious. If email administrators block a few words that are common spam words, they send spam as an image instead of text. If administrators block certain domains known for spam, they spoof or hack new domains to send from. Turns out, HIV acts in a similar fashion as it tries to avoid the human immune system.
The above map from WorldMapper, shows a proportion of all people aged 15-49 with HIV living there. In 2003, the highest HIV prevalence was Swaziland, where 38%, or almost 4 in every 10 people aged 15 to 49 years, were HIV positive. All ten territories with the highest prevalence of HIV are in Central and Southeastern Africa.
Approximately 5,000 people die of HIV related causes each day. According to a Microsoft blog post, the HIV virus in one infected person can change as much as the influenza virus has changed throughout history. The deadliness of the disease and rapid pace of change make it difficult to fight.
Microsoft researchers David Heckerman and Jonathan Carlson working with the Ragon Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, the Center for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV have developed a computational biology tool using some of the algorithms from Microsoft's anti-spam filters and high-performance computing to analyze changes in the human immune system and mutations in the virus to learn more about how to effectively fight HIV.