Tag Archives | HIV

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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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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If HIV Was In Monkeys For Years, Why Didn’t We Get It?

CampbellMonkeyNeil Katz poses the question for CBS News:

The precursor to H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, may be older than you think. Way older.

According to new research, simian immunodeficiency virus (S.I.V.) has been in monkeys for millennia, potentially putting humans at risk for the last 32,000 years and possibly much longer.

And yet, for all that time, humans didn’t get sick in mass. Only in the 20th century did H.I.V. become a global scourge that has claimed 25 million lives.

Why?

According to the New York Times, for as long as monkeys have had S.I.V., humans who have butchered them have put themselves at risk of infection from a mutated form. But because the infected people in Africa were fairly isolated, the chances for an epidemic were small. That changed, some theorize, with the explosive growth of African cities and wide spread use of cheap syringes.

But the reality is, no one really knows for sure.

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A Cure For HIV And AIDS

A cure may not be so far from reality, as reported by ABC News:

For years, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) researchers have shied away from the whole notion of a cure, largely because evidence showed the virus can persist even under intensive treatment.

But now, they are — tentatively — expressing a renewed interest in the idea.

That interest is sparked by clinical data showing an apparent cure in a single case and some technical advances that make it easier to track very low levels of HIV infection, experts said at the International AIDS Conference here.

But progress is hampered by lack of money for research in the field and by what one prominent researcher called “fundamental gaps” in the understanding of how HIV and the human body interact…

[continues at ABC News]… Read the rest

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Discover of New Antibody Takes Step Forward Towards AIDS Vaccine

The progress made recently in HIV and AIDS research seems to have taken the media by storm. With advancements such as earlier treatment in HIV and AIDS patients, and a vaginal gel found to decrease the risk of infection, it appears we’re a step closer towards vaccination. The most recent breakthrough with the discovery of three new HIV antibodies gives hope to scientists that a vaccine will be found. Drew Halley of SingularityHub reports:

Will HIV eventually go the way of smallpox and polio? Earlier this month, scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH) announced their discovery of three new HIV antibodies, the most powerful of which neutralizes 91% of all HIV strains. These are the strongest antibodies yet found, and they could hold the key to developing a vaccine to AIDS.

HIV antibodies themselves aren’t rare, and scientists regularly find ones that are effective against a few different strains.

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True Blood For African Addicts

At what point do people need a fix so bad that they are willing to inject another person’s blood into themselves? With the constant presence of AIDS related deaths in Africa, and the progressive educational-outreach towards sex workers and addicts, it would seem a foolish thought. BBC reports:

Desperate heroin users in a few African cities have begun engaging in a practice that is so dangerous it is almost unthinkable: they deliberately inject themselves with another addict’s blood, researchers say, in an effort to share the high or stave off the pangs of withdrawal.

The practice, called flashblood or sometimes flushblood, is not common, but has been reported in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on the island of Zanzibar and in Mombasa, Kenya.

It puts users at the highest possible risk of contracting AIDS and hepatitis. While most AIDS transmission in Africa is by heterosexual sex, the use of heroin is growing in some cities, and experts are warning that flashblood — along with syringe-sharing and other dangerous habits — could fuel a new wave of AIDS infections.

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HIV ‘Bombs’ Latest Afghanistan Hazard

Searching_Afghan_war_ruins_in_UruzganI’d suggest taking this report with a pinch of salt as it comes from the notorious Murdoch-owned British tabloid The Sun, but one has to admit, it’s scary if true:

Taliban fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.

Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.

The heroin needles are feared to be contaminated with hepatitis and HIV. And if the bomb goes off, the needles become deadly flying shrapnel. The tactic, used in the Afghan badlands of Helmand, was exposed by Tory MP and ex-Army officer Patrick Mercer.

Senior backbencher Mr Mercer said yesterday: “Are there no depths to which these people will stoop? This is the definition of a dirty war.”…

[continues in The Sun]… Read the rest

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Health Care Insurer Assurant, Targeted HIV Patients to Drop Coverage

Assurant Health is EvilTalk about a terrible name regarding these circumstances … “Assurant” Health? Why purchase health insurance in the first place if this can happen? Murray Waas writes on Reuters:

WASHINGTON — In May 2002, Jerome Mitchell, a 17-year old college freshman from rural South Carolina, learned he had contracted HIV. The news, of course, was devastating, but Mitchell believed that he had one thing going for him: On his own initiative, in anticipation of his first year in college, he had purchased his own health insurance.

Shortly after his diagnosis, however, his insurance company, Fortis, revoked his policy. Mitchell was told that without further treatment his HIV would become full-blown AIDS within a year or two and he would most likely die within two years after that.

So he hired an attorney — not because he wanted to sue anyone; on the contrary, the shy African-American teenager expected his insurance was canceled by mistake and would be reinstated once he set the company straight.

But Fortis, now known as Assurant Health, ignored his attorney’s letters, as they had earlier inquiries from a case worker at a local clinic who was helping him. So Mitchell sued.

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