Posts tagged: AIDS

Baby Steps: New leads towards an HIV cure

It’s a good month to be an AIDS activist!

After the publication of results pointing to the success of aggressive antiretroviral therapy campaigns in South Africa last week, the light at the end of the tunnel just got a little bit brighter.

Scientists announced on Sunday that a baby born with HIV might have been cured. The child, born in rural Mississippi, is now 2 and a half, and has been off medication for a year with no further sign of infection, AP reported.

Speaking at a press conference at the start of the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection in Atlanta, pediatrician Deborah Persaud called this “the first well-documented case” of its kind, ScienceNOW reported.

Though Persaud did not treat the child herself, she and her colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted studies of blood samples, leading her to conclude that early treatment may be the real hero in this case, ScienceNow added.

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“Do the math!”: Big results for anti-HIV drug proponents

At last, some hope at the end of the AIDS campaign tunnel.

Two studies published in the journal Science last Thursday showed that an aggressive campaign to provide anti-retroviral drugs in Africa improved life expectancy by more than 11 years and reduced the risk of infection for healthy individuals.

But at what price?

Well, that’s the catch. According to the Los Angeles Times, these fantastic results come with a price tag between $500-$900 per patient, pretty hefty for a country with a per capita GDP of only $11,000. Proponents of less costly measures advocate that efforts should be concentrated towards the distribution of condoms, or male circumcision, rather than spending astronomical sums on drugs.

So what is antiretroviral therapy? According to the World Health Organization, it’s “the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease.” (For more on ARV, click here).

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The Dangers of Bacterial Resistance and AIDS

It seems like only yesterday that the AIDS pandemic first hit— arriving in a storm of panicked media exclusives and misinformation.  As with any communicable, life-threatening disease, the public’s first questions were inevitably ‘have I been exposed?’ or, even, ‘could I already have AIDS without knowing?’  In the beginning, there was little clear information on where the disease came from, or how it was spread—only the grim knowledge that people were dying.  The absurd—and often mocked—notion the illness could be contracted through a toilet seat or drinking fountain seemed very valid and real—and would only later be dispelled through many years of public education and AIDS literacy campaigns.

25 years later, World AIDS Day celebrated the anniversary of its founding in 1987—marking an important global milestone for AIDS research, awareness and fundraising.  The little red ribbon can be seen everywhere— from Vancouver to Helsinki— and AIDS is now a treatable disease with a vastly improved prognosis.  With modern retroviral therapy, many patients are living past the 20-year mark.  Of course, there’s still much to be done, especially in developing nations where these drugs are often not available—mostly due to financial or political concerns. Read more »

HIV in Indonesia: Women and Girls Persevere through Challenging Conditions

It is most often [girls] who are removed first.  This is both to save resources spent on schooling, as well as utilize the girl child for labour – Clifton Cortez, health and development practice leader at UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre.

The number of reported HIV cases in Indonesia has more than tripled in these past few years and caused a decrease in productivity while trapping affected families in a life of daunting poverty. Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam were all used for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) report – all countries suffered the same results that affect HIV-affected households, which include significant drops in income, savings, assets, and ability to buy protein-rich food. The report shows the difference between families that are free of HIV, as the households that are HIV-affected were found to be more than 38% more likely to live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 for each person per day – and over a quarter of these households reported having to sell the already scarce personal belongings in order to foot the bill for medical costs.

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HIV/AIDS – Coming to a Corporate Boardroom near You

The scariest part of an epidemic is that it can easily cripple the economy of a country. The impact of an epidemic disease affects each and every single citizen, whether healthy or infected. This makes it very important that society, as one, should stand up and fight the disease. If not, like water down a drain, it slowly spreads to touch everyone in the society as it comes down.

But the fear that we feel should not be of the type that is so deep-seated that it leaves us debilitated. On the contrary, now is the time where everyone that is part of the society must roll up their sleeves and try to bring a change. This is even truer in the case of big businesses, both local and multinational companies, if they actually want to continue staying in business. Today, most of the people living with HIV/AIDS are in the 25 to 45 age group. These people are at the age where they are most productive and thus vital for the upward mobility and stimulation of a country’s economy. When they become unable to work due to complications caused by the disease, it makes it impossible for businesses to find the workforce needed to power their development. Read more »

Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) and the Contraceptive Pill

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS is the process of making sure that a child born to an HIV positive mother isn’t born with the disease too. And if most people in Sub-Saharan Africa were to be asked how it can be prevented, they would more likely than not answer that prevention is better than the cure – the mother should try to not get pregnant in the first place. While there are many moral issues that could be brought against this idea, some mothers would agree that they too thought so and were using contraceptives to prevent the pregnancy from happening.

And yet, according to a study, it has been found that taking contraceptive pills has actually been the linked to an increase risk of HIV infection among women of reproductive age1. In Africa, where HIV/AIDS is the most prevalent, population control programs have been in place for over three decades in which time women were encouraged to use oral contraceptive pills and hormonal injection contraceptives like Depo-Provera. Research has shown that this has been found to increase not only a woman’s risk of transmitting the disease, but also that of being infected. This has come as quite a shock to the estimated 140 million users of hormonal contraceptives worldwide. Read more »

Pregnant Women Reluctant to Be Tested For HIV/AIDS

Knowing beforehand whether or not a pregnant women is infected with HIV/AIDS is a key factor in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of the disease. Nothing can be sadder than watching children slowly and painfully wither away. It becomes heartbreakingly painful when taking into consideration the fact that with the help of HIV/AIDS testing, this needn’t be the case. However, an alarming number of pregnant women in Africa have been found to be reluctant to take an HIV/AIDS test1.

It has been known for quite some time now that pregnant women that are tested for HIV can be treated with a regimen that prevents mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). The latest guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that should a pregnant mother be diagnosed with HIV, she should start her PMTCT regimen as early as 14 weeks into her pregnancy and follow it strictly until the birth of her child. If these guidelines are strictly adhered to the chances of a baby being born infected are very low.

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Human Trafficking and HIV/AIDS – Double Jeopardy

Human trafficking is defined as the illegal transportation of people from one country to another. The victims are, more often than not, young girls or women who have either been forcefully coerced or deceived by promises of a better life and/or income. While human trafficking is a global phenomenon, it is more widespread in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.

As if being the victim of human trafficking is not enough hell for the victims, they are finding themselves pushed into its furthest corner by simultaneously being exposed to the scourge of HIV/AIDS. This is because the harsh reality that awaits the women once they reach their destinations (or are abandoned midway there) is one that is filled with the savagery of sexual harassment, rape and being forced into either working long hours for little to no pay, or worse: slaving away in the commercial sex industry.

Many of the trafficked women end up in refugee camps. What should be a place of sanctuary usually opens the door to another level of misery. If they are not raped by men in or outside the camp, they fall victim to the same authorities that are supposed to protect them. While it is quite obvious that the exposure to HIV/AIDS is very high once they have reached their, albeit unintended destinations, it is not limited to just that one ordeal. Read more »

Our Kids Are Our Future – Let’s Give Them A Fighting Chance

In this world of wars and economic crisis it is easy to think that we have it really bad. We might think that our woes are the worst; and we might even think that just because we’ve lost our jobs the world is coming crashing down on us. Those of us with offspring to nourish and nurture will think that we are failed parents and go on to paint a gloomy future for our children.

Yes, that is not a good thing for our children to have to live through. And yes, no parent would want to live a life where his or her child had to suffer for lack of a square meal, a roof overhead or an education to get ahead in life. A parent faced with these obstacles in life, caused by matters he or she cannot control, would find it hard to excuse him- or herself. And yet, there is one big obstacle that is put in children’s lives before they are even born, giving them an unfair start to life: they are continuing to be infected with HIV/AIDS, usually transmitted from their mothers.

The deadliest weapon HIV/AIDS has  Read more »

Study Reveals HIV-Positive Women Uneasy in the Consulting Room

When people go to see a doctor it is usually to seek help and advice. To find that help, patients overcome some of their fears and pour out their hearts. They never give it a second thought knowing that what is said in the doctors’ office should stay there under the doctor-patient confidentiality. These are based on the fact that doctors should maintain a professional and highly ethical rapport with their patients, uphold their dignity and respect their privacy.

Yet sadly, when it comes to women living with HIV, things aren’t so peachy. Results from a study indicate that many of them do not discuss issues pertaining to their HIV status and important issues like HIV management before or after pregnancy1. Apparently, clinicians have a lack of experience, comfort or knowledge when it came to discussing gender based matters. In the cases that this wasn’t true it was found that the attending clinicians expected these matters to be dealt with by other physicians. Read more »

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