Stories tagged AIDS

  1. Common, but on the decline
    Nationwide, at least 45 million people ages 12 and older -- or one out of five adolescents and adults -- have had genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 or type 2. Over the past decade, the percentage of Americans with genital herpes has decreased, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. It's more common in women (about one out of four women) than men (almost one out of eight).
  2. Symptoms
    Most people who have genital herpes don't know it because they've never had any symptoms or don't recognize them. But often, when a person becomes infected for the first time, symptoms appear in two to 10 days. Early signs include a tingling feeling or itching in the genital area, or pain in the buttocks or down the leg. Blisters typically appear on or around the genitals or rectum. You can still infect a partner if sores aren't visible.
  3. New research
    Some clinical trials are testing drugs aimed at disrupting genes or enzymes that the virus needs to survive. Several vaccines are in various stages of development, as well as gels or creams that a woman could insert into the vagina before sex to prevent infection in herself and her partner.
  4. Pregnancy
    If a woman has her first episode of genital herpes while she's pregnant, she can pass the virus to her unborn child and may deliver a premature baby. Half of the babies infected with herpes either die or suffer nerve damage. If a pregnant woman has an outbreak and it is not the first one, her baby's risk of being infected during delivery is very low.
  5. Donating blood
    People with herpes can donate blood. According to the American Red Cross, individuals taking antiviral medication (acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir) will need to wait 48 hours after their last dose before donating blood. The American Red Cross says those currently experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes should not donate blood.

Nicole Is a STD dating site for people with herpes, HIV, HPV and other STDS.

A new vaccine designed to fight AIDS has failed to show positive results during its first human tests. Researchers hope to learn what went wrong, and use that to make better vaccines in the future.

Over 90 per cent of the subjects in the phase 1 trials developed an immune response to HIV. The study was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet (KI), Karolinska University Hospital and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (SMI).
Read more about the results from Swedish study of HIV vaccine at the Karolinska Institutet web site.


A denrimer molceule: Image from Wikimedia Commons.
A denrimer molceule: Image from Wikimedia Commons.

New treatments for AIDS and cancer, based on nanoparticles, are about to go into human trials. Both treatments use dendrimers, molecules with multiple arms. Each arm can be designed to do different things. In the case of the AIDS treatment, the arms clasp onto docking sites on the virus’s coating, preventing it from attaching to and infecting healthy cells. In the cancer treatment, some of the arms hold folic acid, which cancer cells absorb; the other arms hold an anti-cancer drug, which is then released inside the cancerous cell.

Dendrimers were invented 30 years ago, but have had few practical applications, since they are difficult and expensive to make. But new processes promise to speed up production, perhaps unlocking the promise of these molecules.

To see images of dendrimers, go here.


AIDS virus: A new study shows some patients' immune systems can recover from AIDS. Image NIH
AIDS virus: A new study shows some patients' immune systems can recover from AIDS. Image NIH

A new study has found that some AIDS patients are able to recover their immune systems to normal levels.

White blood cells protect the body from disease by fighting invaders. But AIDS attacks white blood cells, reducing their number, and leaving the patient vulnerable to other illnesses. Doctors treat AIDS with a combination of drugs that keeps the number of virus particles low, but there is little they can do to repair the damage to the immune system.

This study took over 1,800 AIDS patients who responded well to the drug therapy, and found that some of them actually brought their white blood cell count back up to normal levels.

The doctors stress that these were "best-case scenario" patients -- this will not work for everyone who has AIDS. Also, this is not a cure -- the AIDS virus remains in the patient's body, and a complicated and expensive series of drugs is needed to keep it at low levels.


Sick people need drugs.  Drugs cost money.  Is it OK to steal them?: Photo by .ash from
Sick people need drugs. Drugs cost money. Is it OK to steal them?: Photo by .ash from

Abbott Laboratories, a major drug manufacturer in the US, has announced that it will no longer market drugs in Thailand. The Thai government broke Abbott’s patent on an AIDS drug, allowing other companies to make generic versions.

Some people criticize Abbott, claiming that sick people need the drugs, and human health should come before corporate profits. Others, however, support Abbot, saying that without profits, the company has no incentive to develop much-needed drugs, and no money to do so even if it wanted to.

What do you think? Should drug companies withhold their products from countries where their patents are not honored?


AIDS virus: Image NIH
AIDS virus: Image NIH

A medical research lab at Emory University in Georgia is developing an AIDS vaccine. Animal trials are encouraging – test subjects are developing AIDS antibodies in response to the vaccine.

The vaccine uses some genetic material from the AIDS virus, but not enough to actually get sick. After being exposed to this decoy virus, the body produces antibodies that can block AIDS, and also increases T cells that can kill the virus.
Researchers expect the vaccine could be available in three to four years.


Today the CDC announced its new recommendation that all Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 be routinely checked for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Why the change? About one million Americans are infected with HIV, but 25% of them have no idea that they're carrying the virus. Routine testing should help check the spread of the disease and preserve health as infections are caught earlier.

The CDC's recommendation isn't binding, but it does influence what doctors do and what health insurance covers. And the blanket recommendation might help reduce the stigma associated with HIV testing.

What do you think? Will you get screened for HIV at your next physical? Why or why not?

On June 5, 1981, Dr. Michael Gottlieb briefly described the disease we now know as AIDS in the newsletter of the Centers for Disease Control. This was the first notice published on the disease. Gottlieb was a pioneer in pursuing and studying immune deficiency cases, publishing his results, and testing drugs like AZT.


Professor Stephen Fuller and some colleagues at Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics have created a map of the 3-D structure of the virus (HIV) that causes AIDS.

They used a technique called cryo-electron tomography to see the virus. The technique has been used to look at the virus before, but its unusual variability in size and shape makes it hard to map. The Oxford scientists used a computer program to combine 100 images of 70 individual viruses. They looked for similarities to create a never-before-seen image of the virus' structure. (Read the original paper, published in the journal Structure.)

[IMAGE: To come]
[Caption: HIV, 60 times smaller than a red blood cell, is way too small to be seen with an ordinary microscope. Electron microscopes and x-rays can "see" it, but the images usually aren't great because the virus varies in size and shape. The variation is one of the unique features of HIV; most viruses are much more uniform.]

The shape of a killer

HIV particles, like other viruses, aren't cells but strands of genetic material wrapped in proteins. Viruses hijack living cells by replacing the cell's genetic code with their own, and then reproducing quickly. (Read about the life cycle of HIV and see an animation of how it all works.)

Scientists think that the size and shape variability that makes HIV hard to image is key to the virus' success, and they wondered how HIV, unlike other viruses, is so varied without losing its crucial structure. The new image provides some insight: the cone-shaped core of the virus spans the width of the viral membrane. Usually, the internal structure of a virus defines its size. But HIV's membrane determines its size instead, and limits the way it can assemble.

Understanding how the virus grows and assembles will help researchers develop new therapies for people infected with HIV.

Make it at the museum

A virus uses one protein over and over again to build a shape that encloses its RNA. HIV makes a geometric shape called an icosahedron—it has 20 identical triangular sides. HIV is an unusual virus—its internal structure is asymmetrical.

On Saturday, February 4, the Make It team will be on hand to help you make a virus model of your own to take home!