Posts tagged: antiretroviral therapy

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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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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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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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 »

International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 3

During today’s plenary session we heard HIV experts from Australia, the Ivory Coast and Belgium.  Susan Kippax (Australia) talked about the social barriers to effective HIV prevention.  She argued that any prevention plan will require people to change their social practices.  Additionally, she presented the case that people’s behavior cannot be separated from their social, cultural and political structure and the biomedical pieces of prevention planning cannot be separated from the non-biomedical ones.  As such, Kippax voiced the requirement that social scientists be part of the discussion when creating HIV prevention plans and policy. Read more »

International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference – Day 2

The venue for the 2011 International AIDS Society Conference is Rome’s music auditorium.  There are four main music halls being used simultaneously to host main sessions.  Delegates sit in acoustically optimized rooms as though they were attending a symphony or ballet, but the music and dancing on the stages is being carried out by the international leaders in HIV/AIDS research and clinical practice.  After the Day 1 festivities, the conference is in full swing and the venue is abuzz with science.

The plenary sessions each day set the stage for the future conference sessions.  Monday’s plenary session featured three presentations; 1) looking at the current state of vaccine development, 2) managing treatment of HIV/AIDS in 2011 and 3) using combination therapies for prevention. Read more »

National HIV Testing Day Is June 27th

On Monday, June 27th, the U.S. observes National HIV Testing Day, a day which encourages HIV testing and early detection of HIV/AIDS. This year’s event comes at an important time as we mark 30 years since the first reported diagnosis of what would later be known as AIDS.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV, and of those, approximately one in five are unaware they have the virus.1  These 230,000 people are responsible for transmitting more than half of the 56,000 HIV infections that occur annually.2 This is why testing is so important.  In 2006, the CDC recommended that a one-time HIV test become routine for all persons between ages 13 and 64, and that those with high-risk behavior such as intravenous drug use and multiple sexual partners be tested annually. Sadly, these recommendations are not followed comprehensively, and too few people are being screened.


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Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: Development of Infant Drug Resistance

In September of 2000, the General Assembly of the United Nations held the Millennium Summit to adopt an “Earth Charter” and a “Declaration” that would lead to global governance.  The summit focused on the role of the United Nations in the 21st century; in particular, the UN’s role in pulling over one billion people out of extreme poverty, halting the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and protecting the global environment.  With 150 heads of state in attendance, it was the largest gathering of world leaders in history as of 2000; the outcome of this summit was eight international development objectives known as the UN Millennium Goals.  Two of these goals expressed an intention by the year 2015 to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS1 and to reduce by 66% the infant mortality rate 2.

Using a class of pharmaceutical drugs known as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), great strides have been made toward achieving these UN Millennium Goals.  However, each year approximately 300,000 infants still contract HIV/AIDS 3.  Almost all of these HIV+ infants are infected through mother-to-child transmission, and in the absence of treatment,  half will die before the age of two.  Using ARV therapy, the total rate of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) can be reduced to between two and five percent (without treatment, rates are between 20-45%) 4.   Read more »

Fighting HIV/AIDS – From A Different Angle


New study reveals that people living with HIV can reduce the risk of transmission by up to 96%

The conventional method of fighting HIV/AIDS has mostly been from a ‘prevention is better than cure’ perspective. Whole health policies, in almost all countries in the world, have been drafted and implemented to concentrate on preventing HIV infection– until now.

New findings have been revealed that indicate that the chances of sexually transmitting the HIV virus to a healthy partner can be reduced by almost 96% if the infected partner strictly follows an early anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs regimen1. This is a unique and very effective way of fighting HIV/AIDS. Methods like abstinence, being faithful and using a condom (together known as the ‘ABC’ methods) have been used in the past to curb the disease before it infects more people. But now even infected people can help in the fight. Read more »

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