US to invest $11 million to curb HIV

US to invest $11 million to curb HIV

The US government has reviewed the progress of the National HIV-AIDS Strategy in the past four years, and has announced new funding to fight the scourge, media reported Wednesday.

In a report released by the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services will invest $11 million to fund the Community Health Centres’ to help communities highly affected by HIV, Xinhua reported.

“This initiative, funded through the Affordable Care Act and the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, aims to build sustainable partnerships between public health and health centres to help achieve the goals of the strategy,” the report said.

In addition, the government will expand investment in research to address gaps in the HIV Care Continuum, including investigations of the effectiveness of methods to identify HIV-infected people earlier and to provide them with necessary treatments.

On July 15, 2010, US President Barack Obama released the first comprehensive National HIV-AIDS Strategy.

This strategy envisions that “US will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination”.
Source: business

New cure found for HIV virus?


Scientists have discovered new vulnerable site on the HIV virus that can be attacked by human antibodies in a way that neutralizes the infectivity of a wide variety of HIV strains.

The researchers from Scripps Research Institute Scientists working with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative said that an effective vaccine would work by eliciting a strong and long-lasting immune response against vulnerable conserved sites on the virus-sites that don’t vary much from strain to strain, and that, when grabbed by an antibody, leave the virus unable to infect cells.

Dennis R. Burton, professor in TSRI’s Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, said that HIV has very few known sites of vulnerability, but in this work we’ve described a new one, and we expect it will be useful in developing a vaccine.

The study was published in the journal Immunity.

Source: Yahoo news

US reports rare case of woman-to-woman HIV transmission

A rare case of suspected HIV transmission from one woman to another was reported Thursday by US health authorities.

The 46-year-old woman “likely acquired” human immunodeficiency virus while in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-positive female partner in Texas, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The woman, whose name was not released, had engaged in heterosexual relationships in the past, but not in the 10 years prior to her HIV infection.

Her HIV-positive partner, a 43-year-old woman who first tested positive in 2008, was her only sexual partner in the six months leading up to the test that came back positive for HIV.

She did not report any other risk factors for acquiring the virus that causes AIDS, such as injection drug use, organ transplant, tattoos, acupuncture or unprotected sex with multiple partners.

The strain of HIV with which she was infected was a 98 percent genetic match to her partner’s, said the CDC in its weekly report.

Authorities first learned of the case in August 2012 from the Houston Department of Health.

The couple said they had not received any counseling about safe sex practices, and reported that they routinely had sex without barrier methods.

“They described their sexual contact as at times rough to the point of inducing bleeding in either woman,” said the CDC report.

“They also reported having unprotected sexual contact during the menses of either partner.”

The partner who was infected since 2008 had been prescribed antiretroviral drugs in 2009 but stopped taking them in November 2010, and was lost to follow up in January 2011.

The CDC warned that although such cases are rare, “female-to-female transmission is possible because HIV can be found in vaginal fluid and menstrual blood.”

People with HIV should be under the care of a doctor and take their prescribed medicines to keep their viral load down and reduce the risk of infecting a partner, the CDC said.

Very few cases of this kind have been documented, and confirmation “has been difficult because other risk factors almost always are present or cannot be ruled out,” said the report.

One survey of 960,000 female blood donors found 144 who tested positive for HIV and were therefore blocked from donating.

Of 106 of those women who agreed to interviews, none described female-to-female sexual contact as their only risk factor.

The CDC also described one case of a woman in the Philippines who tested positive for HIV and said she had sex only with women and did not inject drugs, though no source of infection could be confirmed.

One other case is known of a 20-year-old woman who was diagnosed with HIV after a two-year monogamous relationship with a female partner who was HIV positive. While both women had the same drug-resistant HIV mutations, no tests were done to identify if their HIV strains were a genetic match.

Source: Yahoo news

New vaginal gel could help protect women against HIV

Researchers have revealed that a new after-sex vagina gel can be used by women to protect themselves against HIV.

According to scientists at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, drugs applied three hours after exposure to the virus could protect female monkeys from a type of HIV, the BBC reported.

that this study would require large clinical trials to test any new treatment and that condoms still remain the best defense against HIV.

Scientists found that the gel protected five out of six monkeys from an animal-human laboratory strain of HIV, when it was applied before or three hours after infection.

Dr Charles Dobard, of the division of HIV/Aids prevention, said that the gel used is a promising after-sex vaginal gel to prevent HIV infection and studies still need to look for the window of opportunity.

Dr Andrew Freedman, reader and consultant in infectious diseases at Cardiff University School of Medicine, said that the gel contained a different class of anti- HIV drug, which attacks the virus at a later stage in infection.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: Zee news

Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV

A 9-month-old baby who was born in California with the HIV virus that leads to AIDS may have been cured as a result of treatments that doctors began just four hours after her birth, medical researchers said on Wednesday.

That child is the second case, following an earlier instance in Mississippi, in which doctors may have brought HIV in a newborn into remission by administering antiretroviral drugs in the first hours of life, said Dr. Deborah Persaud, a pediatrics specialist with the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, at a medical conference in Boston.

“The child … has become HIV-negative,” Persaud said, referring to the 9-month-old baby born outside Los Angeles, who is being treated at Miller Children’s Hospital. The child’s identify was not disclosed.

That child is still receiving a three-drug cocktail of anti-AIDS treatments, while the child born in Mississippi, now 3-1/2 years old, ceased receiving antiretroviral treatments two years ago.

Both children were born of mothers infected with HIV, which wipes out the body’s immune system and causes AIDS.

Speaking at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Persaud credited the early use of antiretroviral therapies with improving the children’s health but warned that more research must be done.

“Really the only way we can prove that we have accomplished remission in these kids is by taking them off treatment and that’s not without risk,” Persaud said. “This is a call to action for us to mobilize and be able to learn from these cases.”

The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, surfaced more than 30 years ago and now infects more than 34 million people worldwide. Prevention measures, including condoms, have helped check its spread and antiretroviral drugs can now control the disease for decades, meaning it is no longer a death sentence.

Source: Reuters


Egypt claims miracle cure for HIV and Hepatitis

Two days ago, Egyptian media began big campaigns about a miraculous device (billed as ”Complete Cure”) invented by Egypt’s armed forces for treating HIV/AIDS and the Hepatitis C virus.

The news stories depicted the machine as a breakthrough, and a real miracle for completely curing patients of any of the two resistant diseases, giving hope for 18 million Egyptians with Hepatitis C and tens of thousands with HIV. (All this in no time at all — only 16 hours for the cure and one minute for detecting the disease.)

According to the Egyptian media, with the device there is no need to take a sample of the patient’s blood to detect the infection. Moreover, Egypt’s national TV channels ran a video that showed a physician making tests for an HIV patient using the device and telling him, “your tests are so great; you had HIV but now the disease vanished.”

The reports said that ”Complete Cure” is two machines in one: ”C Fast” (for treating Hepatitis C) and “I Fast” (for treating HIV). Furthermore, the reports confirmed that the military had been working for 22 years on the project and although ”C Fast” had been ready to go since 2006, the inventing team preferred to wait until it could test the effectiveness of the machine on HIV patients.

There’s even more. Major Dr. Ibrahim Abdel-Atti, leader of the machine-inventing team, stressed that Egypt will not export the machine to other countries so that it can be protected from international monopoly and the black market. He was quoted in the Al-Ahram newspaper as saying, “Marshal el-Sisi once said, ”we lagged behind and we should jump rather than walk so that we can compete with others”, and this is the first jump.”

The strange thing is, the media stresses that the device can also treat swine flu or H1N1, a disease that has taken many Egyptian lives over the past few weeks.

The media message is, of course, clear: We can depend only on Egypt’s armed forces; they’re the hope; they’re the people who can meet all our needs; they’re the men of impossible missions; they’re the best to lead Egypt in the coming years; they’re the best in the world; they’re big scholars and hard workers; they spare no effort to develop Egypt and improve the lives of its people.

They worked for 22 years for a machine that can make Egyptians happy. In short, the leader of Egypt must be a military man (in particular, Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi).

This kind of propaganda reminds us of old campaigns about the military’s invention of two inter-continental missiles: Zafer and Qaher, during Abdel-Nasser’s and Saddat’s era.

The two rockets were said to be able to reach to the depths of Israel. During that time, the media depicted this as if it was a nuclear bomb that could deter any threats to Egypt.

However, General Saad Ed-Dien el-Shazli mentioned in his diaries later that this was just propaganda and the two missiles were in fact ineffective and had no destructive power. El-Shazli stressed that he was shocked every time the media told lies about the two missiles and every time Saddat threatened America and Israel with using them.

In the current period, ordinary Egyptians are building mountainous hopes on such new devices and think that, with them, they can find light at the end of the tunnel.

The large majority of comments in the news describe the machine as a blessing and a gift from God, and many happy people have wondered aloud in the media about when the machine will be available in the hospitals. Many have been seen expressing their gratitude for the military and Marshal el-Sisi.

Source: the commentator

Twin U.S. studies unlock mystery of how HIV causes AIDS

U.S. scientists have discovered the basic mechanisms that allow HIV to wipe out the body’s immune system and cause AIDS, which could lead to new approaches to treatment and research for a cure for the disease that affects 35 million people around the world.

Instead of actively killing immune system cells known as CD4 T cells, much of the damage done by HIV occurs when the virus tries to invade these cells and fails, triggering an innate immune response that causes the cells to self-destruct in a fiery kind of cell suicide known as pyroptosis.

The findings, published simultaneously in the scientific journals Science and Nature, also suggest that an experimental anti-inflammatory drug owned by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc that has already been tested in people with epilepsy could be repurposed as a possible new treatment for AIDS.

“Our papers deal with the fundamental issue that causes AIDS, and that is the loss of CD4 T cells,” said Dr Warner Greene of the Gladstone Institutes, an independent biomedical research nonprofit based in San Francisco, whose lab produced the research in both papers.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said the papers offer an “elegant” solution to a question that has eluded scientists since the virus was first identified in 1983.

Greene said for years, scientists had thought that HIV killed immune system cells by infecting them directly, hijacking their DNA machinery and turning them into virus-producing factories.

But this only happens to a small portion of CD4 T cells. In a series of experiments in human spleen, tonsil and lymph node tissues from HIV-infected patients, the Gladstone scientists discovered that the real damage of HIV infection occurs in so-called “bystander cells,” the most common type of CD4 T cell.

These cells are in a resting state, so when the virus attacks, it is unable to hijack them, and aborts the attempt.

But the damage is done. These so-called abortively infected immune cells release a protein that activates an enzyme called caspase-1, which causes the highly inflammatory form of cell suicide, pyroptosis.

“The cell is committing suicide in a vain attempt to protect the host,” Greene said. “The abortive process releases a call for help from new CD4 cells, who then fall victim to this fiery death.”

In the paper published in Science, the Gladstone team identified a mechanism that detects the damaged cells and triggers this cell death pathway.

“This idea that CD4 depletion is more of a cellular suicide than it is a murder by the virus is a new and important concept,” Greene said.

In the paper published in Nature, the team explored the implications of blocking this cellular suicide with experiments using anti-inflammatory drugs that block the caspase-1 enzyme, including the Vertex drug VX-765.

Greene said the company tested the treatment in patients with a chronic seizure disorder who would not respond to normal anti-epileptics, but the effect was not strong enough to continue development.

What they did find in a six-week clinical trial in people is that the drug was safe and well-tolerated.

“We would like to see if that drug could be repurposed to prevent inflammation in CD4 T cell loss in HIV infection,” Greene said.

Gladstone is in talks with Vertex to gain access to the drug for clinical trials as a potential new treatment for HIV infection. Such a drug could have three potential applications.

It could be used globally as a stop-gap treatment for the 16 million individuals who are infected with HIV but do not have access to antiretroviral therapy or ART, the highly effective medicines that keep HIV from replicating in the body.

Because the drug fights the inflammatory response linked with HIV infection, it might also be useful in addition to ART as a way of preventing the long-term consequences of HIV infection, such as early dementia, heart attacks and cancer.

Greene thinks the drug might even be useful in the research for an HIV cure, helping to flush out parts of the virus that go into hiding and cause the infection to start up again once people stop taking antiretroviral therapy.

At this point, all of these potential uses are theoretical, Fauci said. “It still remains to be seen what the ultimate practical usage of this is, but nonetheless, it’s still a significant paper.”

Greene said his team is in negotiations with Vertex for access to its drug, and hopes to come to an agreement soon as to how to proceed. “For the benefit of HIV-infected individuals, this merits testing.”

Source: IBN Money

Mother-to-child HIV infections decreasing: UN

The U.N. Children’s Fund says it is alarmed about increasing HIV and AIDS rates among adolescents over the last seven years and is advocating an aggressive program that includes condom distribution and antiretroviral treatment.

In a more positive development, UNICEF found that mother-to-child transmission of the HIV virus has been dramatically reduced and estimated that some 850,000 cases were prevented in low- and middle-income countries.

Its 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS released Friday said AIDS-related deaths among those aged 10 to 19 increased between 2005 and 2012 from 71,000 to 110,000. About 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV in 2012.

Nearly 90 percent of children newly infected with HIV live in just 22 countries. All except one are in sub-Saharan Africa.

“If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “It’s a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programs – urgently.”

High-impact interventions include condoms, antiretroviral treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, communications for behavior change and targeted approaches for at-risk and marginalized populations.

UNICEF found dramatic improvement in prevention of new HIV infections among infants. Some 260,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2012, compared to 540,000 in 2005.

New, simplified life-long antiretroviral treatment known as Option B+ provides the opportunity to effectively treat women with HIV and to prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, and through breastfeeding.

The treatment involves a daily one-pill regimen.

Some of the most remarkable successes were in sub-Saharan Africa. New infections among infants declined between 2009 and 2012 by 76 percent in Ghana, 58 percent in Namibia, 55 percent in Zimbabwe, 52 percent in Malawi and Botswana and 50 percent in Zambia and Ethiopia.

UNICEF said that globally, the number of AIDS-related deaths overall fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2012

Source: Deccan Chronicle


1163 HIV positive people in Meghalaya: MACS


Health authorities in Meghalaya today said the number of people living with HIV/AIDS virus has increased many folds since 2007 when only 14 persons were tested positive.

Today 1163 persons are living with the virus and authorities believed there could be more who are yet to come forward to test.

For a small state with a population of about three million people, the number is staggering and the trend is increasing every year with as many as 79 positive people have succumbed to the virus in which the international watchdogs on HIV have categorized the state as ‘low prevalence but high risk.’

“The cumulative figures till October this year is 1163 positive cases in the state,” Meghalaya Aids Control Society (MACS) director F Kharkongor said.

The MACS chief said that only 527 positive persons have turned up for treatment at the three Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) Centers set up in the state even as she expressed concerned at the low turnout of the patients at the designated hospitals.

The first tests were started in 2007 in which 14 persons only were tested positive, she said, adding that the figure increased every year, 54 in 2008, 131 in 2009, 245 in 2010, 452 in 2011, 731 in 2012 and 1008 till March 2013.

The number of deaths has also increased every year since 2008 when only one patient died, in 2009 four died, in 2010 eight patients died taking the cumulative figure to 12, Kharkongor said.

The cumulative deaths in 2011 increased from 12 to 22 and then 37 the following year, she said, adding that the number of victims almost increased almost doubly during the period from March 2012 to March 2013 with 25 deaths.

From March to October this year the number of deaths recorded stands at 17, also the highest during the same period in the past six years, the official said.

According to a data compiled the MACS, 43 per cent of the victims are of the age group from 25-34 and mostly are the active inject drug users.

However, the female sex workers working in the coal belts and along the National Highways in the state also constitute a huge chunk of those people living with the HIV virus.

The others are men who have sex with men and children born out of positive parents.

Source: Press Trust of India


HIV infections up in Europe and Central Asia

Sweden – HIV infections in Europe and Central Asia increased by eight percent in 2012 compared to a year earlier, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control announced on Wednesday, November 27.

The rise of 131,000 new cases was driven by a nine-percent increase in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region which accounted for 102,000 new infections — around three-quarters of them in the Russian Federation alone.

In the European Union and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, new infections rose by less than one percent to 29,000, according to the joint report by the EU agency and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Almost half of the new cases were detected at an advanced stage of the infection which raises the risk of transmission to others.

Among the reasons for the increase is the lack of awareness of anti-retroviral treatments.

“We know that providing antiretroviral therapy earlier will allow people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, and will reduce the risk that they transmit HIV to others,” WHO regional director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab said.

AIDS cases were down by 48 percent in Western Europe between 2006 and 2012, while in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of newly diagnosed cases of the disease caused by HIV increased by 113 percent.

According to the report, only one in three people in need of anti-retroviral therapy was receiving in last year, despite improved figures compared to 2011.

In 2011 there were 2,300,000 people living with HIV in Europe and Central Asia, according to the WHO.

Source: Rappler