Tag Archives: HIV infections

AIDS: Don’t Die of Prejudice!

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Eighteen million people around the world live with HIV but do not know they are infected. Endangering both themselves and countless others, they represent a public health challenge that affects not only Africa but every part of the world, including Europe and the United States. We stand at a tipping point in the AIDS crisis – and unless we can increase the numbers tested and treated, we will not defeat it. In spite of the progress since the 1980s there are still over 1.5 million deaths and over 2 million new HIV infections a year.

Former Health Secretary Lord Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them. Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers.

Norman Fowler started his career as a journalist at The Times and for over thirty years was an elected MP, serving in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet before becoming Chairman of the Conservative Party under John Major. He joined the House of Lords in 2001. He is the longest-serving British Health Secretary since the Second World War, and has devoted much of his life to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Aids cover 2.inddIn his new book “AIDS: Don’t die of Prejudice” Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. Aids: Don’t Die of Prejudice is a lucid yet powerful account, both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today.

 

We ordered a couple of copies which arrived today, our staff will share and read this book and in a couple of weeks, I’ll ask them what they thought of it and gather their opinions for you to read.  If you own your own copy (Amazon Link) we’d like to hear your views, let us know in the comments..

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Soy sauce molecules effectively fight HIV

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More than a decade after a Japanese soy sauce manufacturer said it had discovered a molecule in its sauce that could be used to fight HIV, the findings have been confirmed by university scientists.

According to a team of virologists at the University of Missouri, a flavor-enhancing molecule found in soy sauce – called EFdA – is up to 70 times more powerful than typical drugs like Tenofovir, which is often used as a first line of defense before the disease builds up a resistance.

“Patients who are treated for HIV infections with Tenofovir, eventually develop resistance to the drugs that prevent an effective or successful defense against the virus,” said Stefan Sarafianos, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the University of Missouri School of Medicine, and a virologist at the Bond Life Sciences Center.

“EFdA, the molecule we are studying, is less likely to cause resistance in HIV patients because it is more readily activated and is less quickly broken down by the body as similar existing drugs.”

The discovery of the powerful molecule dates back to 1998, when Japanese soy sauce company Yamasa established a division of food scientists with the intention of studying how the body’s immune system reacted to the chemicals contained in food. According to Vocativ, the company discovered the potential of EFdA in 2001, when it noticed the make-up of the molecule bore a striking resemblance to existing HIV drugs on the market.

Thirteen years later, that research has been verified. When it comes to individuals whose bodies haven’t developed a resistance to Tenofovir, the soy sauce molecule is 10 times more effective.

“Not only does EFdA work on resistant HIV, it works better on HIV that has not become Tenofovir resistant,” Sarafianos said.

According to the University of Missouri’s science blog, EFdA’s effectiveness was also proven in monkeys by Sarafianos and other researchers like Michael Parniak of the University of Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health’s Hiroaki Mitsuya. In 2012, the three researchers showed that even in animals nearing death, EFdA allowed for rapid and impressive recovery.

“These animals were so lethargic, so ill, that they were scheduled to be euthanized when EFdA was administered,” Parniak told the blog. “Within a month they were bouncing around in their cages, looking very happy and their virus load dropped to undetectable levels. That shows you the activity of the molecule; it’s so active that resistance doesn’t come in as much of a factor with it.”

Moving forward, the researchers hope to apply EFdA most effectively in preventative measures, which the team sees as the best way to halt the spread of the disease. Continued research into the molecule could lead to other breakthroughs and even better ways to battle HIV.

“We want to understand how long EFdA stays in the bloodstream and cells,” Parniak said. “If we understand structurally why this drug is so potent it allows us to maybe develop additional molecules equally potent and a combination of those molecules could be a blockbuster.”

Story via RT

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It’s here! – NATIONAL HIV TESTING WEEK

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After last year’s successful National HIV Testing Week, it’s now established as a permanent part of the HIV prevention calendar.

New figures show there are over 1000 people living within Leicester and Leicestershire (757 city residents and 251 from Leicestershire)

Dr Fu-Meng Khaw, centre director for Public Health England in the East Midlands, said:

“People who are unaware of their infection are likely to be those most at risk of transmitting HIV to others.  “Earlier diagnosis will help reduce new HIV infections across the UK.”

Jenny Hand, chief executive of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services, said:

“The big message we need to get out is that people need to know their status.  Getting a test is the one thing they can do right now to help stop the spread of HIV.”

We are working with Public Health England to extend the number of testing opportunities over the week.  One of the aims is increase the uptake of testing in the different African communities in Leicester.

The figures are only an indication of how many people are affected by HIV.”

Mike Sandys, Leicestershire County Council‘s acting director of public health, said:

“This is a good initiative. We need to encourage people to test because, in the vast majority of cases, HIV is passed on by someone who doesn’t yet know they have the virus.  Modern drug treatments drive down the level of virus in the body, often to an undetectable level.

This means someone with HIV who has tested positive and is on treatment is far less likely to pass on the virus than who someone who does not yet know they have it. So if everyone is tested, we could start to see new infections fall among our communities.”

Ms Hand also said:

“We hope the national week will help to really convince people they should know their status.  The test is a finger prick for blood and the results take 60 seconds.

HIV is now considered a long-term condition and not a terminal illness.  The biggest issue is still around stigma and discrimination.”

Rapid HIV testing is available at LASS, (53 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 6YF) and at other locations this week.

Not content to offer JUST A HIV Test, why not pop in today for a a general check up? – We’re offering a free testing for Diabetes, Blood Pressure, BMI, Blood Glucose and of course, a Rapid HIV Test.

We’re also on hand to provide information and advice on a range of subjects including tuberculosis, HIV awareness and Sexual health.

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Should the “New” Russian HIV Strain Cause Concern?

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There has been a lot of play in the press recently about a “new and more virulent strain of HIV” (Daily Mail, Oct. 17) that appears to be spreading quickly in parts of Russia and Central Asia.

According to the epidemiological reports, this new recombinant form of HIV-1 — called 02_AG/A — is spreading at a faster rate than the dominant subtype, HIV-1 A. Moreover, the prevalence rate in some parts of Siberia have spiked by as much as 700% in the past five years, with nearly one out of every 180 persons infected.

Of these, 50% can be attributed to 02_AG/A.

What’s causing the most concern among global health officials is the fact that Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the two areas in the world where HIV infections are actively increasing.

The question is whether this “new” HIV strain is the cause of the increase. Is it as virulent as some are claiming, or are there other factors playing a key role (e.g., social, behavioral)?

Looking at the epidemic up-close, injection drug users and their sexual partners still remain the major drivers for the epidemic in the majority of Russian regions. A steady drug trade from Central Asia through the western borders of Russia — combined with increases in migratory labor and international travel — have likely contributed to the genetic diversity in the regional HIV pool.  Over time, this gave rise a recombinant form of HIV that appears to be more “fit” than other forms of HIV, allowing it to predominate.

But does this, in and of itself, mean that 02_AG/A is a “meaner, scarier” version of HIV, able to infect more easily than other HIV strains?

In truth, the fact that it has spread so quickly, taking a leading position in some regions, does warrant concern. One study conducted by the New York University School of Medicine suggests that 02_AG/A is able to replicate nearly 1.5 times faster than parental subtype A. Simply put, the replication rate may allow the virus to “build traction” more quickly in an effected host, far in advance of an immune response.

But what all of this doesn’t suggest is that 02-AG/A is any more or less deadly than other forms of HIV. In fact, a four-year study by the University of Montepelier in France showed that the 02_AG strain (which predominates in Cameroon and West-Central Africa) does not differ from other forms of HIV in the region, either in terms of survival, disease progression, or CD4 cell decline.

However, none of this can downplay the fact that, unless Russian health authorities act now, the spread of 02_AG/A may thwart any effort to stave the alarming HIV infection rates in the region… or the spread the virus to other regions and continents.

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