Tag Archives | AIDS

UN Asks The World To Put An End To AIDS By 2020

AIDSUNWith numerous research groups inching closer to a cure for AIDS, the United Nations asks that leaders throughout the world end the pandemic by 2020. While one of the largest problems in the spread of AIDS is the lack of knowledge about the disease and access to treatment in certain areas, there is also a lack of funding to facilities that are on a progressive path towards a cure, but are stopped because of finances. The Christian Post reports:

World leaders must do everything in their power to end the AIDS pandemic by 2020, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said at the U.N. Summit on AIDS in New York.

“Today, we gather to end AIDS,” Ban said as the United Nations General Assembly opened on Wednesday.

The three-day summit is being held as the world marks the 30th anniversary since HIV was first discovered. Ban told delegates gathered from across the world that AIDS must end: “That is our goal – zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

Ban urged: “If we are to relegate AIDS to the history books we must be bold.

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‘Berlin Patient’ May Be First Man Cured Of AIDS

aids-cure-firstFrom CBS via Radio Television Caraibes reports:

A 45-year-old man now living in the Bay Area may be the first person ever cured of the deadly disease AIDS, the result of the discovery of an apparent HIV immunity gene.

Timothy Ray Brown tested positive for HIV back in 1995, but has now entered scientific journals as the first man in world history to have that HIV virus completely eliminated from his body in what doctors call a “functional cure.”

Brown was living in Berlin, Germany back in 2007, dealing with HIV and leukemia, when scientists there gave him a bone marrow stem cell transplant that had astounding results.

“I quit taking my HIV medication the day that I got the transplant and haven’t had to take any since,” said Brown, who has been dubbed “The Berlin Patient” by the medical community.

Brown’s amazing progress continues to be monitored by doctors at San Francisco General Hospital and at the University of California at San Francisco medical center.

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Drugs Help ‘Reduce’ HIV Transmission

HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected macrophage.

HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected macrophage.

BBC News reports:

An HIV-positive person who takes anti-retroviral drugs after diagnosis, rather than when their health declines, can cut the risk of spreading the virus to uninfected partners by 96%, according to a study.

The United States National Institutes of Health sampled 1,763 couples in which one partner was infected by HIV.

It was abandoned four years early as the trial was so successful. The World Health Organization said it was a “crucial development”.

The study began in 2005 at 13 sites across across Africa, Asia and the Americas.

HIV-positive patients were split into two groups. In one, individuals were immediately given a course of anti-retroviral drugs. The other group only received the treatment when their white blood cell count fell.

Both were given counselling on safe sex practices, free condoms and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Among those immediately starting anti-retroviral therapy there was only one case of transmission between partners.

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Rwanda To Run Vasectomy Campaign To Curb Population Growth

Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

Photo: Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

An interesting tactic in controlling population growth, but how does one come up with a slogan for a campaign supporting both vasectomies and HIV prevention? Stop the spread of disease and babies? BBC News reports:

Rwanda’s government has said it wants to encourage men to have vasectomies in a bid to stem the small landlocked country’s growing population.

It would be done along with its HIV prevention campaign to encourage all men to be circumcised.

Health officials would take the opportunity to talk to men about the birth-control method at the same time.

A BBC reporter in Rwanda says vasectomies are uncommon in the country and the move may meet resistance.

[Continues at BBC News]

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The Promiscuous Life of Julian Assange

julian-assange-300x253Should we be concerned with Assange’s sex life? Is it deserving of the media attention or is it taking away from what WikiLeaks’ leaks? Via Daily Mail:

The two women who say they were sexually assaulted by the WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange would never have complained to police if he had agreed to take an HIV test, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

WikiLeaks’s Swedish co-ordinator, who worked closely with Mr Assange for months, said in an exclusive interview that he repeatedly begged his boss to have the test, both to head off the possible police investigation and for Mr Assange’s own peace of mind, given his promiscuous sex life.

‘The two women told me, that if he goes to the clinic for an HIV test, then we won’t go to the police,’ said Mr Assange’s colleague, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is a witness in the case brought by Swedish prosecutors, which led to Mr Assange spending nine days in Wandsworth Prison pending extradition.

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HIV Cured By Stem Cell Transplant

sternThe first person ever successfully cured of HIV, thanks to the miracle of stem cells? Aidsmap reports:

Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.

The man received bone marrow from a donor who had natural resistance to HIV infection; this was due to a genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptor being absent from his cells. The most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 as its ‘docking station’, attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells, and people with this mutation are almost completely protected against infection.

The “Berlin patient,” Timothy Ray Brown, a US citizen who lives in Berlin, was interviewed this week by German news magazine Stern.

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Daily Pill Helps Prevent HIV Infection

120px-HIV-budding-ColorWhile this pill would be an amazing achievement helping to reduce the spread of HIV, even the volunteers in the trial couldn’t remember to take it everyday. The best prevention of HIV is the knowledge of how it is transmitted and how ways to prevent it. From BBC News:

A daily pill to prevent HIV infection would be a significant development. A trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that an established treatment for HIV infection is also powerful in protecting gay men from catching the virus.

This is not, however, the answer to the nearly 30 year epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Since it is just one trial, many more studies will need to follow. But according to the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) it is “potentially very significant and could change the HIV landscape in the future”.

Some brief facts about the trial: it involved about 2,500 men at high risk of HIV infection in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil South Africa, Thailand and the United States (San Francisco and Boston).

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Pope Says Condoms Sometimes Permissible to Stop AIDS

Pope BenedictPhilip Pullella reports in Reuters:

VATICAN CITY — The use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS may be justified in certain cases, Pope Benedict says in a new book that could herald the start of sea change in the Vatican’s attitude to condoms.

In excerpts published in the Vatican newspaper on Saturday ahead of the book’s publication next week, the pope cites the example of the use of condoms by prostitutes as “a first step toward moralization” even though condoms are “not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.”

While some Roman Catholic leaders have spoken in the past about the limited use of condoms in specific cases to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS as a lesser of two evils, this is the first time the pope has mentioned the possibility himself in public.

The Vatican newspaper unexpectedly published significant excerpts from the book on Saturday night, days before extracts were initially due to be made public.

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Belgian Archbishop Calls AIDS ‘Inherent Justice’

What is it with Catholic clergy? These guys just don’t know when to zip it! From Reuters:

Belgium’s Roman Catholic Church, already reeling from allegations of sexual abuse, faced a new scandal Friday after its primate wrote that AIDS was “a sort of inherent justice.”

Many lawmakers condemned Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, the head of the Belgian church, for the remarks in a new book and Belgium’s center for equal opportunities received a series of complaints, including one by a lawyer who said his comments were incitement to hatred.

The Church is struggling to recover from the resignation of the Bishop of Bruges in April after he admitted sexually abusing a nephew.

In his book “Monseigneur Leonard – Conversations,” the archbishop referred to a remark by the late Pope John Paul II who said, when asked whether AIDS was a punishment from God, that it was difficult to judge God’s will.

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20% of Gay Men Are HIV-Positive

Wow - that's really high. Worse, half of them don't know it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in this report from TIME:
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that 1 in 5 sexually active gay and bisexual men in America are HIV-positive but that 44% of them don't know it. More than 8,000 self-identifying gay and bisexual men (or, as the researchers call them, MSM, for men who have sex with men) were tested by CDC workers in the 21 American cities with the highest infection rates. The gay population in Baltimore had the highest rates of HIV infection, at 38%, while Atlanta scored lowest, at 6%. The highest absolute number of infections occurred in white MSM...
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