HIVS/AIDS in Pregnant Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

In North America, the general population is fairly educated about the HIV/AIDS epidemic; however, this is not the case on the African continent. HIV/AIDS is generally transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, contaminated blood transfusions, and used hypodermic needles. Prevention is possible, but there is no definite cure. Roughly sixty percent of all AIDS victims are women, and they are twice as likely to contract HIV through heterosexual intercourse than a man – the main cause of transmission in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women often face the problem of becoming pregnant while infected with AIDS. A study from 2009 states that close to thirty percent of South African pregnant women were living with HIV – a figure which has barely shifted over the past few years. Women infected with HIV/AIDS live very difficult lives while faced with discrimination and the possibility of passing on the virus to their children.

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HIV Drug Resistance: Refusing to Leave Without Putting Up a Fight

Years of transferring lab results from test tubes and Petri dishes out onto the dismal playing field of worldwide HIV infection has finally given us a one-up on the disease. Series and series of refinement to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and better prevention programs has indicated nothing but a dwindling battle against the virus. But HIV is battling back. They are developing resistance to our meticulously-perfected drugs. Drug resistance is, as implied in the name, the ability of a virus to withstand the effects of a given antiretroviral drug attempting to prevent its replication; it will continue to replicate in the presence of the drug.

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Preventing Mother to Child Transmission Needs Mercy and Compassion

Today, HIV/AIDS has become a disease that has knocked on the doors of almost every country in the world. Populations have had traumatic experiences that will be hard to forget any time soon. People have died living loved ones uncared for or to be the burdens of other family members. Young ones have died leaving behind elderly parents that have no one to care for them. If these stories are to stop we need to make sure that the next generation is saved. And for now, the surest way to go about it is by implementing PMTCT (Prevention of mother-to-child transmission) programs and using them as effectively as possible.

If that isn’t done then we will be facing a crisis where the infected children of tomorrow will have to face a horrible future. Even today, as the world has risen to fight against the disease, there are challenges in the form of ignorance, sheer hatred and weak mentality against the people living with HIV/AIDS that will make PMTCT of no use at all.

The simplest and most common effect of this is the stigmatization and discrimination that is being meted out to these poor souls in almost every part of the world. But, these two pale in comparison to the horror stories that are being told about the hell that children are being put through because they are HIV positive. While although not an excuse, one can understand harm coming to them from outside the home, these children are increasingly facing cruelty from their own families; the only people that they could trust and rely on for love and protection. Read More

First In-Home HIV Test To Hit Retail Stores In the US

Recently the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the very first over the counter HIV test kit that allows individuals to test themselves in the comfort of their own homes.1 Would that not make you more inclined to take the test?  This is important because people will no longer have to make the effort to schedule a doctor’s appointment and be able to take the test in the comfort of their own home.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test is the first rapid diagnostics test for any infectious disease and works by detecting the antibodies that are part of the human HIV virus1.  You must simply take an oral swab and place it in the vial that is provided in the kit.  Within 20 to 40 minutes, you will have your results1.  If your results happen to be positive it doesn’t mean that you are definitely infected with the HIV.  Clinical studies have shown that “the kit is expected to show one false positive out of every 50,000 results and one false negative out of every 12 results.”  The over the counter test was not meant to replace medical testing but simply to provide another way for people to find out their HIV statuses virus. If you do test positive using this in-home test, it is recommended that you see your doctor to verify the results.1

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Canada Piloting Controversial Program To Eliminate HIV/AIDS

Once again, we’re after the one percent. But this time, it’s to help them out; the British Columbia Ministry of Health in Canada has just launched a massive four year, $48 million program in the hopes of eradicating HIV/AIDS – by means of detecting and treating the disease faster than ever.  In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, this pilot program aims to test everyone in the province who has ever been sexually active.

Routine tests in hospitals throughout B.C. have shown that one percent are unaware of being HIV-positive, having no outward signs of infection. These people are the targets of B.C.’s revolutionary program. As Reta Gustafson, Medical Director of Communicable Disease Control for Vancouver Coastal Health, puts it matter-of-factly, “If you have HIV and don’t know it, you can’t do anything [to get treated].” Discovery of such cases, if progress is to be made, cannot rely solely on fluke. It is with this in mind that a new HIV antibody test is being implemented. The test requires but a single drop of blood from a person’s fingertip, and yields results in 30 seconds. Developed in Vancouver, it has been dubbed “A very important new step” in the worldwide fight against HIV by Dr. Julio Montaner, director of B.C.’s Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

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FDA Approves First Ever HIV Prevention Pill

The best method in the fight against HIV AIDS has always been prevention. Man has tried to stop the spread of the disease with three main ways: the use of condoms, being faithful to a single partner and total abstinence from sex. These three methods seemed to have worked, as today the infection rates have been found to stagnate and, in some countries, to even nosedive, thus indicating a great victory.

But, these preventive methods didn’t actually fight the disease head on or proactively. And they were methods that were implemented in the hope that both parties involved were HIV negative. But not anymore; in what is being considered a huge milestone in the 30-year long fight against the disease, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first ever HIV prevention pill1.

Called Truvada, this latest step in the fight against the disease is the product of Gilead Sciences. The company has been researching and developing drugs that have been used to fight diseases like HIV AIDS, Hepatitis B and influenza since 1987.

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HIV/AIDS Virus Becoming Drug Resistant

The last thing anyone would probably want to hear would be that the HIV/AIDS virus was actually mutating and becoming more drug resistant. Although it is sadly true, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) says that it isn’t actually as bad as had been initially feared. Studies conducted from 2003 to 2010, and in over 20 countries, have shown that HIV drug resistance is still at a low 3.7%.

What is it?
The HIV/AIDS virus has increasingly been found to be able to withstand the effects of drugs that are used in antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens. This in turn means that the virus continues to reproduce even when the drugs have been administered. This is known as HIV drugs resistance.

What is the Cause?
Some of the very few causes of the drugs resistance are the lack of knowledge among patients and health workers, inability of the patients to strictly adhere to the ART treatment regimens, drugs being out of stock and lack of treatment monitoring by health officers.

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The Impact of HIV On Pregnant Women

Across the world, HIV is a disease that is infecting an increasing amount of people annually.  Pregnant women are no exception to this escalation, and it is clear that too many pregnant women are HIV positive.  For example, in 2009 roughly 29 percent of pregnant women in South Africa were living with HIV.  Sadly, years later this statistic has not changed considerably1.

We can easily take for granted the chance we have to live healthy, comfortable lives. Could you imagine feeling constantly tired, having chronic diarrhea, and suffering from constant rashes all over your body?  These are just a select few of the many symptoms of HIV/AIDS.  In many parts of Africa, where medication is not readily available, HIV positive women live very difficult lives.  They suffer from deteriorating health, damaged family relationships, and even discrimination from their neighbours2.  The more people that are found to be HIV positive, the greater the strain that is placed on the health care system.

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FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Approval of Home HIV Test Kits and HIV Prevention Pills

There is an old saying that advises us that “prevention is better than the cure”. This is a widely accepted idiom and is especially true when it comes to HIV/AIDS because, as of date, no cure has been found for the disease. The only strategy that has been used in various scenarios is to prevent the transmission of the virus. So far, this strategy has been quite successful, although a lot more needs to be done, especially when it comes to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS.

It therefore comes as great news to hear that advisory panels to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended that two new weapons be added to the HIV prevention arsenal. The first is an over-the-counter HIV kit that will allow people to test themselves in the privacy of their own homes1. The second is a pill that can help prevent people from becoming infected with the virus2.
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The Fight Against HIV/AIDS and MTCT: A Decade On

When the United Nations General Assembly – Special Session (UNGASS) met in 2001 in New York, a target was set to reduce the number of HIV-infected infants by 50% by the year 2010. To achieve this plan, it was calculated that 80% of HIV pregnant women or mothers would have to be enrolled under a prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) program.

To see what an uphill task it was to undertake, we need to have a look at some figures:

  • Of the global HIV positive population, a little over 50% of them are women. At the end of 2010, there were an estimated 34 million people living with HIV, and that same year saw 2.7 million people newly infected with the disease.

  • While the HIV epidemic had peaked somewhere in between the years 1996 and 1997, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia the number of people living with HIV rose by a staggering 250% from 2001 to 2010. The hardest hit countries were the Russian Federation and Ukraine which accounted for almost 90% of the region’s epidemic.
  • Each day, an estimated 1000 children under the age of 15 are infected by the disease. And of these, more than 90% of them are infected due to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

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