Monthly Archives: February 2015

Think HIV is a death sentence? Well, think again!

Angela Winfield became HIV-positive in her teens but thanks to medical advances, is facing a normal lifespan, with medication to control the condition.

Angela Winfield became HIV-positive in her teens but thanks to medical advances, is facing a normal lifespan, with medication to control the condition.

“EVERY day I wake up and I’m alive and it’s a new day, that’s all I ask for. I would love to go on and live as long as I can.”

It’s an ambition Angela Winfield thought she would never achieve after becoming HIV-positive in her teens.  At the time, she was told nothing could be done, and the longest she could expect to live was to just 30.

But as medical advances have continued since the once-deadly condition first became prevalent 30 years ago, she was told two years ago she could now have a normal lifespan.

Angela, 44, became HIV-positive after her first sexual encounter at the age of 15. Her then-boyfriend, who has since died, believed he contracted the condition from a transfusion of tainted blood that he needed because he was a haemophiliac.

Angela later went on to have two children with another man, but then, shockingly, found out at the age of 23 that she had HIV. She faced an agonising wait to see if her daughters had contracted the condition, but they were clear.

Since then, she met her husband, John Winfield, who shares her life as she keeps the condition in check with advanced drugs.

Angela, of Bradbourne Court, Derby, said of the day she was first diagnosed: “I was an absolute mess when I was told. It was horrific.

“I’d been handed a death sentence and there was no way out. I thought my life was over before it had started. I no longer had anything to live for, everything seemed pointless.”

After being diagnosed, Angela’s first thoughts were for the future of her two daughters, now aged 26 and 22. She said: “Finding out they didn’t have it was a huge relief and gave me the fight to go on.”

Angela once had to take 28 tablets a day because of her condition but now it is down to just three. She said: “A lot of my friends can’t believe how long I have lived and I want to keep going. Thinking you won’t live past the age of 30 is a terrible feeling.

“I was told two years ago that it’s no longer a death sentence. It’s now an illness which can be controlled.

“I want to keep going. I would love to be a great-grandma and after saying I didn’t think I would see my grandchildren, that is amazing.

Angela has seen the birth of five grandchildren and married John eight years ago. He cares for Angela, who also suffers from osteoarthritis, a spinal prolapse and side-effects from the medication.

Angela now has a clear message for youngsters who are experimenting with sex and for those who are diagnosed with HIV. She said: “Please be careful. Think about what you’re doing because one mistake can change your life. It only takes one time and then that’s it, your life will change forever.”

John is tested for the disease every few years. So far, results have always been negative and the 49-year-old does not fear them.

John, who works part-time at Silly Sid’s furniture store, in Balaclava Road, said: “Since I have been with Angela, I have gone with the flow. The disease has never bothered me at all. If any of my tests come back positive then that’s life.”


WITHOUT treatment, the average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be nine to 11 years.

Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, bodily fluids, or breast milk. Within these, HIV is present both as free virus particles and a virus within infected immune cells.

Twenty years ago, anyone diagnosed with HIV could expect to suffer with AIDS within ten years and most patients were expected to die within two years of developing AIDS.

Fortunately, new tests, treatments, and technological advances for HIV have greatly improved this formerly grim prognosis. Anti-HIV drugs can help to slow damage caused by the virus.

Timely treatment is the key to a good prognosis for people who have HIV. Those who remain untreated will experience complications from the virus that will lead, over time, to illness and death, but anti-HIV therapy can help most people stay healthy and experience long lives.

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Parents’ anguish at Alexander McQueen HIV ‘lie’ in new book


He was one of Britain’s most lauded fashion designers, a man regarded as a guru by many in the industry for the way his radical vision and masterful craftsmanship revolutionised the catwalk before his suicide at the age of 40.

Now, five years after Alexander McQueen’s death, the parents of his former long-term partner, who died shortly afterwards, have accused the publishers of a forthcoming biography of peddling a lie about their son and causing severe distress to their family.

The book, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath The Skin, by Andrew Wilson, claims that George Forsyth had contracted HIV before McQueen’s death and that the designer believed his ex-lover had passed it on to him.

The film maker, who became McQueen’s unofficial husband in 2000, before same-sex marriages were legalised, died at the age of 34 after taking a large amount of painkiller for a neurological condition he was suffering – a few months after the couturier hanged himself in his Mayfair flat.

His parents, Alan and Sandra, say the claim that he had HIV and infected McQueen is completely false and have accused publishers Simon & Schuster of refusing to remove it from the biography before its publication.

The book is understood to quote McQueen as telling a friend that Forsyth had infected him with the virus.  Mr and Mrs Forsyth asked Simon & Schuster to remove the HIV claim from the book before its publication on Thursday.

When they were told this would not be possible, they urged the publisher to at least insert an erratum slip in each copy of the book making it clear the claim was false. The publisher said it was unable to do so in time for the first edition but would make a correction for the second print run.

In an email to Mr and Mrs Forsyth, one of Simon & Schuster’s senior publicists apologised for the inaccuracy, stating: “May I say on behalf of Simon and Schuster that I’m very sorry for any distress which has been caused to you and your family.

“I can’t imagine how upsetting it is to read things about your son which are untrue and sensationalised and I am deeply sorry that this has happened. I have been in touch with the book’s editor who is looking into how we amend this when the book reprints.”

However, nine days later Simon & Schuster’s lawyers wrote to the Forsyths stating that the publicist’s apology was a “voluntary act of kindness” and did not give them any legal basis for a claim for damages against the publisher on behalf of their dead son.

They added: “As a gesture of goodwill Simon & Schuster will not include the words referring to George Forsyth detailed in your letter in reprints of the book or in eBook editions.”

Mrs Forsyth, 73, a retired architect, said: “We soon realised they couldn’t really pulp every copy, but the least they could do was amend the inaccuracies in an erratum slip inserted in each book on publication. But they refused, saying only that they would amend the book and remove the inaccuracies before its second print run.”

She added: “It is extremely upsetting to have these lies written about George, who was never HIV positive and therefore could never have passed it on to Lee [McQueen].

“He regularly tested himself and always came back HIV negative. Indeed a joint test he carried out with a new boyfriend, after his relationship with McQueen had collapsed, showed he was HIV negative.

“After Lee split with George he took many drugs and slept with lot of people, so if he was HIV positive he would have contracted it this way.”

George Forsyth (Albanpix)

The book also makes the claim that Forsyth died of an overdose of the painkiller codeine. His parents deny this, saying that he had accidentally taken a large amount of the drug after it was prescribed to him as part of treatment for a neurological problem that left him in severe pain and unable to use his right arm.

“The coroner at George’s inquest ruled his death was accidental. He did not die of a drug overdose,” said Mrs Forsyth.

She added: “This book has come out five years after our son’s death, just at the point we have reconciled ourselves to him going, and it brings back up an awful lot of upsetting memories for us.”

Mr Forsyth, 70, an architect, said: “To knowingly print something that isn’t true is a terrible thing for a serious book publisher to do. I think it is terribly cynical behaviour.”

The parents became aware of the HIV claim after the publication of a newspaper article in January, based on the book. When the couple complained, the newspaper issued an apology, stating that the filmmaker was never HIV positive.

Alexander McQueen died nine days after his mother Joyce succumbed to cancer aged 75 – and the day before her funeral.

Another book published this month, Gods and Kings, by Dana Thomas – on the lives of McQueen and fellow designer John Galliano – has been criticised for describing his suicide in graphic detail.

Alexander McQueen with Naomi Campbell, left, Kate Moss and Annabelle Neilson (Rex)

Mr and Mrs Forsyth believe the claims made in Andrew Wilson’s book are not only personally upsetting, but also betray the memory of their son’s relationship with McQueen.

Speaking after McQueen’s death in 2010, his ex-partner said of their first encounter in a London bar in 1999: “We just got on really well from the very beginning. He was an East End boy, I’m a North London Jew. We could talk for hours.”

Mrs Forsyth said: “They had a tempestuous relationship, yes, but a lot of the time it was very loving. Even when their marriage collapsed they remained friends. To read this kind of false claim about them is very upsetting.”

Story via Telegraph

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

HIV has been around for over 100 years!


In Randy Shilts’ history of AIDS, “And the Band Played On,” he tells the story of an Air Canada steward named Gaëtan Dugas, who suffered from what Dugas called “gay cancer” and infected 40 people or more with HIV.  He was, Shilts wrote, “Patient Zero.”

Dugas, through his extensive travels and unprotected sex, undoubtedly helped spread HIV. But was he the man who brought the disease to America?

In the new book, “The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Rain Forest”, author David Quammen says no.

“Dugas himself was infected by some other human, presumably during a sexual encounter — and not in Africa . . . somewhere closer to home,” Quammen writes. “As evidence now shows, HIV had already arrived in North America when Gaëtan ­Dugas was a virginal adolescent.”

Using molecular genetics, researchers have now traced the ­exact strain of HIV that became a pandemic — HIV-1, Group M, Subtype B — to its original source.

Amazingly, through examination of genetic samples from humans and chimps, Quammen reveals scientists have found exactly when and where HIV started — even a probable theory as to how.


  • 1908: Research reveals “AIDS [sic] began with a spillover from one chimp to one human, in or near a small southeastern wedge of Cameroon, around 1908,” Quammen writes. The most likely way it jumped species was through a person Quammen calls the “Cut Hunter” — a man who hunted and butchered a chimpanzee infected with simian immunodeficiency virus and was wounded in the process. The chimp’s blood mingled with his through the cuts in his skin.
  • 1910s-20s: Chances are the Cut Hunter infected only one other person, and HIV likely spread on a one-to-one basis through sexual contact, working its way down the Sangha River in Cameroon to the Congo, eventually reaching the city of Leopoldville (later Kinshasa). Why did no one notice? Life expectancy in that time and place wasn’t that high. And the infected were likely to die of some other common disease, with no one suspecting that their immune systems were compromised.
  • 1920s-50s: Colonial officials were conducting massive health campaigns in Africa to treat tropical diseases. Quammen notes that the treatment for one ailment, caused by tsetse flies, required 36 injections over three years. But hypodermic syringes were rare commodities, made out of glass and metal. They were used over and over again. “Once the reusable needles and syringes had put the virus into enough people — say, several hundred — it wouldn’t come to a dead end, it wouldn’t burn out, and sexual transmission could do the rest,” Quammen writes. Meanwhile, Kinshasa’s population exploded. Between 1940 and 1960, the city grew from 49,000 people to about 400,000.
  • 1960: Belgium abruptly gives up the Congo as a colony as forces led by Mobutu Sese Seko overthrow the government. The Belgian regime, Quammen notes, had discouraged education among its colonial subjects; there were no Congolese doctors. Instead, those ranks were filled by French-speaking Haitians who fled home after the government fell. “Someone brought back to Haiti, along with Congolese memories, a dose of HIV-1, Group M, Subtype B,” Quammen writes.
  • 1969: But how does one infected Haitian lead to an outbreak that, according to 1982 blood tests, results in 7.8 percent of women in a Port-au-Prince slum having HIV? Again, needles. In the early 1970s, a plasma-donation clinic, run by a Miami investor, opened in Haiti offering residents $3 per liter. Shared needles at this clinic likely increased the infection rates in Haiti and shipped the disease to the United States in frozen blood plasma. Research indicates that just a single migration of the virus — ­either one infected person or one container of plasma — accounted for bringing HIV to America. “That sorry advent had occurred in 1969, plus or minus about three years,” Quammen writes.
  • 1980: The disease lurked in America for a decade before anyone noticed. “It reached hemophiliacs through the blood supply,” Quammen writes. “It reached drug addicts through shared needles. It reached gay men… by sexual transmission, possibly from an initial contact between two males, an American and a Haitian.” In 1980, Michael Gottlieb, an assistant professor at UCLA Medical Center, noticed a number of gay men suffering from pneumonia because of weakened immune systems. He wrote a short piece about it in 1981 for the Centers for Disease Control newsletter. A similar cluster is documented in New York. At the same time, a group of heterosexual Haitian immigrants in Miami are found to suffer from symptoms similar to Gottlieb’s patients.

Learn more about the story here.

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Sex education: how it is taught here and abroad


MPs want sex education to be made compulsory in English state schools. What happens now – and how does this compare with other countries?

The Commons education select committee wants personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) to be given statutory status.

Currently, sex education is not mandatory in council-run primary schools, apart from basic biology in science lessons, and only topics like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have to be taught in secondaries that are under local authority control. Academies, free schools and independents are not bound by these rules.

Despite the lack of compulsion in sex and relationships education, it is taught in many state schools in England, and guidance has been drawn up for teachers.

All state-funded schools are expected to follow guidance published by the Department for Educationin 2000.

  • This says children should be taught about the importance of marriage and stable relationships.
  • Secondary school pupils should learn about human sexuality, the reasons for delaying sexual activity, the benefits from delaying, and sexual health.
  • Early sexual experimentation is not encouraged.
  • Pupils should learn about contraception, reproduction and emotions.
  • They should also be taught about avoiding unplanned pregnancies.
  • The guidance makes it clear that “inappropriate images” and “explicit material” should not be used.
  • In primaries, pupils should learn about puberty before they reach this stage, and should be taught about how babies are born. In their final year, they should learn about periods and voice breaking.
  • In secondaries, pupils are taught about relationships, love and and the responsibilities of parenthood. There is emphasis on contraception and safe sex, along with the arguments for delaying sex and resisting peer pressure. Students are also expected to understand how the law applies to sexual relationships.

Supplementary guidance for the digital age has been drawn up by the PSHE Association.

  • This makes it clear that “pornography is not the best way to learn about sex because it does not reflect real life, and can therefore be worrying, confusing and frightening for young people”.
  • On sexting, it says pupils “should learn that it is illegal to produce, possess or distribute an indecent image of a person under the age of 18 – even if it’s a picture of themselves”.

So what happens in other countries?


The Sex Education Forum (SEF), which is in favour of mandatory sex education in all English schools, points to Finland as an example of a country that has got things right (after making a mistake).

Sex education was made compulsory in schools in 1970, but became optional in 1994. As a result, according to the SEF, sex education declined and there was a rise in teenage abortions.

Complusion was re-introduced in primary and secondary schools 2006, and the evidence shows that girls are having sex later and using contraception, with a decline in the number of teenage abortions.


Another leader in the field is Holland, where sex education – and information about sexual diversity – are compulsory in all secondary and primary schools.
Holland has one of the lowest teenage pregnancy rates in the world.


Sex education is mandatory, but, as in England, parents can remove their children from classes.


Although most children over 12 learn about sex, what they are taught varies from state to state.

Some teenagers are taught about “abstinence plus”, which encourages young people to refrain from sex, but also provides information on contraception and sexually-transmitted infections.

Others learn about “abstinence only”, which is centred on sex within marriage and does not mention contraception.

California is the only US state that has never accepted federal funding for abstinence-only programmes.


“According to state requirements, school-based sexuality education should be delivered within the context of health education in all secondary schools,” says a Unesco report.

Lessons are focused on “abstinence only” and sexual morality, but many specialists believe this approach is no longer appropriate.

Despite this, “attempts to introduce elements of education on safer sex to secondary schools have been strongly criticised”.


According to Unesco, from the age of 12, “information about sexual relationships becomes more explicit” in recognition of the fact that “at this age, many Jamaican young people are experimenting with sexual behaviour”.

But “some topics, such as respecting sexual diversity, remain contentious”.

via Channel4

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

New strain of HIV found in Cuba is twice as agressive as average virus

HIV test

A new strain of HIV has been found in Cuba, which progresses to AIDS twice as fast as the average strain of the virus.

The strain, which is a mix of three subtypes of HIV, can progress to AIDS within 3 years without treatment- twice as fast as the 6 to 10 years that the average strain takes to progress.

According to The Seattle Times, Anne-Mieke Vandamme, a professor at the University of Leuven, and a team of researchers travelled to Cuba after an increasing number of HIV infections that rapidly spread to AIDS were reported.

The researchers studied 73 patients who had tested negative for HIV within three years, but who recently contracted the virus. All of the patients at the Tropical Medicine Pedro Kouri in Havana infected with the strain of HIV, known as recombinant, progressed to AIDS within three years and none of them received treatment before progressing.

More than 60 strains of HIV type 1 exist in the world because of mutations. The rapid nature of this new Cuban strain makes it difficult to treat.

Researchers also found that people having unprotected sex with multiple partners increased their risk of contracting multiple strains of HIV that could mutate or recombine into a new strain.

The research has been criticised, however, as the sample size of 95 patients is too small out of the some 15,000 Cubans living with HIV.

In the UK, HIV diagnoses have fallen from 6,333 in 2010 to 6,000 in 2013, and the proportion of late diagnoses of HIV continues to decline- down to 42% in 2013 from 50% in 2010.

via PinkNews

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

Women living with HIV: a matter of safety and respect


Last month the results of a global survey on women living with HIV were published. The survey was designed and conducted by women, and commissioned by the World Health Organisation. Will the findings be acted upon?

In 2014 the World Health Organisation commissioned the largest international survey to date on the sexual and reproductive health and human rights of women living with HIV. The survey was designed, led and conducted by women living with HIV.  Last month the global survey was published: Building A Safe House On Firm Ground.

I live in Canada in a small rural setting, and I have been living with HIV for many years. The survey calls for “safety, support and respect for all women at all times”.  It is my hope that readers examine the survey in its entirety.

A total of 832 women from 94 countries, aged 15-72, with another 113 women in focus groups from 7 countries took part in the survey. Violeta Ross (Bolivia) expressed how “This consultation means for me, the opportunity to learn from one and other. Women living with HIV are the best positioned for the design of sexual and reproductive health policies“.

The single most prominent finding of the survey was how women living with HIV experience high rates of violence, on a continuum throughout the life cycle: 89% of the respondents reported experiencing or fearing gender-based violence, before, during and/or after HIV diagnosis.

Violence was described as physical, psychological and/or financial, with an HIV diagnosis or disclosure acting as a trigger for violence at times. Over 80% of respondents reported experiences of depression, shame and feelings of rejection. Over 75% reported insomnia and difficulty sleeping, self-blame, very low self-esteem, loneliness, body image issues, or anxiety, fear and panic attacks, whether before, or as a direct result of, or after diagnosis.

Poverty ties in with violence, along with gender inequality. Many women with HIV come from diverse backgrounds, such as drug use, sex work, being lesbian or transgender. Women are often in relationships where they do not have the financial means to leave and are reliant on their partners, placing them in an unequal power dynamic and open to further abuse and blackmail.

The survey reveals the way in which the lack of human rights-based approaches to women’s services contributes to mental health issues, lack of satisfying sex lives, and lack of sexual and reproductive rights. All women with HIV have the right to achieving their sexual and reproductive rights as a fundamental part of being human. The survey also highlights the importance of women needing to achieve their own rights in all these areas in order for them adequately to support their children and partners – which women with HIV are very much wanting to do.

The report strongly recommends the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV as active participants in all plans and research which affects them.

As Sophie Strachan of the UNAIDS Dialogue Platform and the Global Coalition of Women and AIDS explained, “The main importance of this consultation is that WHO hear and take up our recommendations, listen to our voices (as experts) to hear the needs of women living with HIV and include peer led support/services in their guidelines. We need gender specific policies to ensure the rights of women in all our diversities are met.”

Gender-based violence against women living with HIV is a world-wide phenomenon. In a Canadian context it takes place on a continuum from polite rejections, discrimination and regular experiences of being stigmatized, to more overt forms of violence including physical assault, threats of violence during disclosure of their HIV status or with partners who use the secret of “shame” of their HIV status to control women and keep them from leaving a relationship.

Women living with HIV in Canada often have children and cannot find adequate child care. So they cannot spend time furthering their education and are therefore trapped in a poverty cycle which is often impossible to break. This further exacerbates the potential for abuse and violence.

Indigenous women in Canada represent a small percentage of the overall population, but are over-represented in the number of women living with HIV in Canada, as are women of colour who have emigrated from other regions of theworld. Women living with HIV in Canada often live in isolation, keeping their HIV status private for fear of backlash from the community and to protect their children from stigma and discrimination.  Living in isolation leads to decisions to not seek treatment, not seek care and support to deal with stress and anxiety, and not take prescribed medication on a regular basis, if at all.

It may come as a surprise to learn that Canada has one of the highest rates of criminalization of HIV for non-disclosure in the world. This needs to be addressed to alleviate fear and silence about HIV. Canada demands that other countries adhere to basic human rights practices, yet at home we do not. Fortunately we have a strong organization, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, which lobbies for de-criminalization of HIV and changes in our government’s position on this topic. Criminalization of HIV in fact serves to increase HIV transmission. With the onus on the HIV positive person to disclose their status to sex partners or risk prosecution, individuals assume and expect that everyone living with HIV will disclose, and they rely on this and do not ask questions, do not insist on the use of condoms or any safe sex practices. This causes a false sense of security for people on the dating scene, and indirectly creates a situation where people living with HIV are used as part of screening mechanisms for safe sex practices, with the rationale that a person can rely on prosecution if and when a person does not disclose their status. It places the burden of disclosure on the person living with HIV, and does not emphasize the need for each individual to take responsibility for their own sexual health and well being. Laws will not protect people from contracting HIV, personal responsibity for oneself will.

Two recent court rulings in 2013 and 2014 against women in Canada for non-disclosure of their HIV status highlight how the law lags far behind science in relation to the virtual impossibility of transmitting HIV if one has an undetectable viral load. There is a critical need to decriminalize HIV; there is also a need for everyone to take responsibility for their own sexual health.

Services to support women living with HIV in Canada exist in a splintered fashion and vary from province to province.  In Quebec I have had many conversations with women living with HIV, but there seems to be no clear or definitive answers about why women are so reluctant to engage in services. Service providers do not have the solutions around engaging women in services either. From my own point of view I would like to see more concrete and  practical services which will enable us to learn new job skills to integrate back into the work place.

A human rights focus is needed as much in Canada as it is in the so-called “developing” world. The many components on the continuum of violence towards women living with HIV need to be addressed, including financial inequality, need for adequate housing, job security and human rights-based approaches to employment and care.

There is an obvious need for a national cohesive voice for women living with HIV in Canada. What needs to take place here in Canada, as everywhere, is a serious attempt to practice the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV in the full cycle of all aspects of planning, programme implementation and evaluation. We are the experts, and we alone can identify what our needs are and how they can be addressed. This was clearly demonstrated in the Salamander Trust survey, which has produced the most meaningful and authentic results I have read to date.

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines now need to be updated to reflect both the findings of the report, and to reflect recent political and biomedical aspects of the HIV response.

via OpenDemocracy

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy

HIV vaccine that transforms cell DNA brings fresh hope


A radical new approach to vaccination seems to completely protect monkeys from HIV, US scientists report.

Vaccines normally train the immune system to fight an infection.

Instead, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California have altered the DNA of monkeys to give their cells HIV-fighting properties.

The team describe it as “a big deal” and want to start human trials soon. Independent experts say the idea is worth “strong consideration”.

This technique uses gene therapy to introduce a new section of DNA inside healthy muscle cells.

That strip of DNA contains the instructions for manufacturing the tools to neutralise HIV, which are then constantly pumped out into the bloodstream.

Experiments, reported in the journal Nature, showed the monkeys were protected from all types of HIV for at least 34 weeks.

As there was also protection against very high doses, equivalent to the amount of new virus that would be produced in a chronically infected patient, the researchers believe the approach may be useful in people who already have HIV.

Lead researcher Prof Michael Farzan told the BBC: “We are closer than any other approach to universal protection, but we still have hurdles, primarily with safety for giving it to many, many people.

Shifting target

“We’re very proud of it and we think it’s a big deal, but we are biased.”

HIV vaccines have struggled because the virus mutates so rapidly it is a constantly shifting target.

This one targets areas that HIV struggles to change.

“The real strength of this thing is that it is more potent than any antibody,” Prof Farzan said.

However, there are safety questions.

After conventional vaccination, the immune system responds only after it is presented with a threat.

The gene therapy approach turns cells into factories that constantly spew out the artificial HIV-killers, and the long-term implications of that are unknown.

‘Important step’

The team want to begin trials in patients who have HIV but are unable to take conventional drug therapies within the next year.

Prof Nancy Haigwood, of Oregon Health & Science University, commented: “In the absence of a vaccine that can elicit broadly protective immunity and prevent infection, and given the lack of major breakthroughs on the horizon to provide one, the idea of conferring potent, sustained vaccine-like protection against HIV infection through gene therapy is certainly worth strong consideration.”

Dr Anthony Fauci, of the US National Institutes of Health, said: “It would be advantageous to curb HIV infection without daily antiretroviral drugs because of their cost, the potential for negative side-effects from lifelong therapy, and the difficulties some patients have adhering to daily drug regimens and tolerating certain drugs.

“This innovative research marks an important step toward our goal of putting HIV into sustained remission in chronically infected people.”

via BBC

Follow LASS on Twitter
or subscribe by email
Visit Well For Living
for well-being news and info or follow_THEM-a copy