Posts tagged: HIV treatment

The long and winding road: A step-by-step trek towards an HIV cure

The news just keeps rolling in!

After the recent revelation that a Mississippi baby seems to have been functionally cured of AIDS, it seems that the same treatment may work in adults.

Results from a recent study conducted by the Pasteur Institute in Paris showed that early treatment appears to have put HIV in what seems to be permanent remission in 14 adults.

The 14 people were part of a cohort of 70 examined by Asier Saez-Cirion of the Pasteur Institute’s unit for regulation of retroviral infections. Examining the effect of early treatment, Sáez-Cirión treated the group with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) between 35 days and 10 weeks after infection. This is much sooner than people are normally treated, reinforcing the idea that early treatment may be a vital part of an HIV cure.

According to NewScientist, all the participant’s drug regimens had been interrupted at some point, some willingly, some because of participation in other studies.

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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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Turning HIV On Itself: Fighting Fire With Fire

It looks as though HIV may be going down in the storybooks as yet another antagonist that has spelt out its own demise. Dr. David Harrich, of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, began what was to become a lifelong struggle against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS – a struggle of which now he has the upper hand. Since the appearance of the first cases of AIDS in the 1980s, he has been fighting its spread and worldwide detrimental effects. Now with a laboratory breakthrough in hand, this story’s ending is within reach.

They call it fighting fire with fire. HIV – human immunodeficiency virus – , normally causing AIDS, has been modified to prevent it – turning HIV against itself. A protein, under normal circumstances, helps the virus grow. Mutated, as Harrich has done, it prevents the virus from replicating or spreading. “Patients would still be infected with HIV, but it would not develop into AIDS,” tells Harrich. It’s not the HIV that causes AIDS, but that your immune system becomes run down. “This mutated protein would help to maintain a healthy immune system so patients would be able to handle normal infections.” Without an inside man opening the door, AIDS will have no way to get in. Read more »

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 »

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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