Tag Archives: Cuba

Thailand becomes first country in Asia to eliminate mother-child HIV spread

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

Thailand’s success comes from strong prenatal care from large cities all the way to the poorest villages. Nearly all pregnant Thai women are screened for HIV, 95 per cent of those who test positive are treated to prevent transmission to their babies and almost 100 per cent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers are given antiretroviral drugs.

Article via Telegraph

However, hundreds of thousands of migrant women, many of them working or seeking menial jobs in Thailand, are not included in the data. Many poor women from neighbouring Burma and Cambodia do not receive any prenatal care or HIV screening while in Thailand.

A 2010 Thai government report found that two to three times more migrant women were infected with HIV in certain areas of the country.

There are an estimated 2.7 million registered and undocumented male and female migrant workers in Thailand. They have limited access to the country’s health care system, and many are reluctant to get tested or treated for HIV due to language barriers or out of fear they will lose their jobs or have negative interactions with police or other authority figures, according to UNAids.

Steve Mills, technical director at nonprofit FHI360’s Asia-Pacific office in Bangkok, said this is an area Thailand needs to improve, along with focusing more on at-risk populations such as intravenous drug users and sex workers operating outside of brothels. Gay men and transgender people are of particular concern.

“With the evolution of the epidemic and people being on HIV treatment, it’s meant that condom use is harder to get to a satisfactory level,” he said, adding that gay men and transgender people are often harder to reach today because couples often meet through social networks instead of in bars, saunas or other public places where outreach workers once targeted them.

“We need to encourage people to get tested.”

Last year, the World Bank published a study calling for more free anonymous testing and treatment among gay men. It said the rate of infection within Bangkok alone had jumped from an estimated 21 per cent in 2000 to 28 per cent in 2012.

Only one-fifth of those infected were receiving antiretroviral drugs, even though it’s provided by the government without cost.

Thailand was hailed by the international community as a model for other countries after promoting 100 per cent condom use among sex workers in brothels in the 1990s, drastically reducing infection rates.

But Aids continues to kill. In 2014, an estimated 20,000 people died from the disease in Thailand, a rate that has remained steady for the past five years. An estimated 450,000 people are living with the virusin the country of 60 million.


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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

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Cuba Will Start Clinical Human Trials of a Vaccine Against HIV This Year.

The announcement was confirmed by the director of clinical research of Cuba’s genetic engineering and biotechnology centre, Dr Verena Muizo, at the International Biotech Conference-Havana 2012.

“In terms of the vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), it should start soon,” he said.

“We hope in the second quarter of this year, or in the third. It is a clinical study of individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, but it is a phase one study, for safety, and to start to try this possible vaccine.

Dr Muizo said the vaccine, known as TERAVAC-VIH-1, would start as a small study in just a few patients.  “The clinical study that we are going to do is going to be done with a small number of patients, 30.

“These are individuals that have not reached the Aids stage but are instead in the seropositive stage without reaching the clinical Aids stage.”
A seropositive patient tests positive for HIV antibodies, but still has an immune system strong enough to fight off opportunistic infections that can cause complications with patients with full-blown Aids. (sic)

The researchers working on the HIV vaccine, though hopeful, were quick to point out that the investigation is still in the early phases and they will not know for many years whether the vaccine is effective or not.

“The vaccine is starting its clinical evaluation and we hope it works.
“But really, we need a lot more time to really be able to show its effectiveness as a product,” Dr Muizo added.

In December last year a group of Canadian scientists won approval to start testing an experimental vaccine on humans. Developed by researchers from the University of Western Ontario, it received a green light from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Original article via Sky News

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