Stories tagged HIV

Researchers at the International AIDS Conference sifted through published papers on the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission. They say that while a popular estimate pegs the rate of HIV transmission through heterosexual sex at 1 per 1000 contacts, true rates of infectivity are all over the map and dependent on many variables. The infectivity rate for certain sorts of activities is much, much higher-- as high as 1 in 3 contacts. The take away message? "Claims in both the popular media and the peer-reviewed literature that HIV is very difficult to transmit heterosexually are dangerous in any context where the possibility of HIV exposure exists."

The HIV virus attacks white blood cells by latching onto a protein on their surface. People without that protein are immune from AIDS. Using that knowledge, scientists in Pennsylvania have figured out how to genetically manipulate mice so they, too, have the immunity.

The procedure has not yet been tested on humans. If it does work, it wouldn’t cure the disease, but it could let infected persons live healthier lives with the virus.

Jun
27
2008

Herpes is on the rise in New York city – one in four adults carries the disease.

And HIV is on the rise across the United States – though experts say that is due to better, more accurate counting rather than to any real increase in the disease.

On the plus side of the ledger, the World Health Organization has recognized that AIDS is unlikely to become an epidemic among heterosexual (straight) populations in the West. Not that folks can all go about being careless, but it is far less common than many feared it would be. The disease is epidemic among all groups in sub-Saharan Africa.

And, just in time for the pool party season, comes news that you can't catch AIDS from swimming pool water, even if people have been engaging in natatorial naughtiness.

May
08
2008

Fighting AIDS in Africa: Many people are at risk, but officials disagree over the best approach.
Fighting AIDS in Africa: Many people are at risk, but officials disagree over the best approach.Courtesy Stig Nygaard

Two years ago, an article in the journal Science noted that rates of AIDS infection were falling in Zimbabwe, south east Africa, thanks to the “ABC” program. “ABC” stands for “Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms” – three things that help prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Other countries using the ABC approach, including Uganda and Kenya, also report success in stemming the tide of AIDS.

The report was in the news again lately as Congress debates funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Rep. Chris Smith of NJ cited this and other studies as evidence of the program effectiveness. (An argument for continuing the funding can be found here. )

The program is controversial, however, because it adds a moral dimension to medical treatment. Many aid workers don’t want to be in the position of telling people how to live, or imposing a particular view of right and wrong behavior on another culture. They would rather just treat the disease. OTOH, this particular disease spreads through a particular behavior. Programs that rely exclusively on condoms without any behavioral component have had little success against the AIDS epidemic.

Some people see this controversy as playing politics with a world health crisis. But others take it very seriously. In 2005, Brazil refused to accept US funds for their AIDS program because it came with the requirement that workers try to discourage prostitution. Many aid groups argue that such a provision hurts their ability to reach the people who need help the most. The government argues that discouraging prostitution and sex trafficking makes all kinds of sense when combating an STD.

It would be good to get this sorted out soon, since there is no vaccine against AIDS, and some scientists believe it may be impossible to ever make one.

What do you think? Should aid workers try to combat disease by changing people’s behavior? Or should they just stick to medicine? And should government funding come with such restrictions? Leave us a comment.

Apr
08
2008

Don't touch my blood buddy: Alligator blood has been found to be high in certain peptides that are great at killing viruses, including HIV.
Don't touch my blood buddy: Alligator blood has been found to be high in certain peptides that are great at killing viruses, including HIV.Courtesy Bill Swindaman
Have you ever wondered why you never see alligators in the waiting room at the clinic?

For one thing, alligators have really bad medical insurance. But the bigger reason they stay so healthy is in their blood. New research has shown that alligator blood can kill off 23 different strains of bacteria. In effect, the gators have antibiotics in their blood.

Researchers started looking into alligator blood after noticing that the creatures rarely get infections despite all the wounds they suffer in their violent lives.

Why does any of this matter to us? The discovery could have huge impacts for our health. For one thing, experiments have shown the alligator blood is able to destroy much of HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.

More specifically, alligator blood (and the blood of many other reptiles) is high in peptides, which are fragments of proteins). Learning more about these peptides could lead to the creation of medicines we’d be able to use to fight off strong viruses like HIV.

The full details are available at this link.

Don’t worry. You won’t be getting any transfusions of alligator blood the next time you’re at the hospital. Researchers estimate that pills or creams with the peptides that are also present in alligator blood might be ready for the human marketplace within the next seven years.

Re-Entering the Dating Scene
Now that you know you have genital herpes, you're out of the dating game, right? Absolutely not. There's no reason to stop looking for love and fun.

Genital herpes doesn't detract from your many desirable qualities, which have drawn people to you in the past and will continue to make you a great catch.

Broaching the Topic of Genital Herpes
The first date after your diagnosis may seem a little strange, however. If you hope to be sexually intimate with your date at some point, you may feel like you're keeping a nasty secret. If you are one to be candid with people, you'll want to blurt it out. Don't. There are some things you should reveal about yourself right away -- for example, that you're married, or that you're just in town for the week -- but some things are better left for the appropriate moment.

It's up to you to decide the right time to tell your date that you have genital herpes. Follow two rules: First, don't wait until after having sex. Second, don't wait until you're just about to have sex -- in which case the attraction may be too strong for either of you to think rationally and act responsibly.

If in the past you tended to start a new relationship with sex, you now might want to change your approach. It might be better to break the news about your herpes to someone who has already grown attached to you. Kissing, cuddling, and fondling are safe, so you don't have to tell before you do that. But use your best judgment as to how physically intimate you want to get before telling. One thing could lead to another, and you might find yourself in an awkward situation.

Dealing With Rejection
Anyone who dates should be prepared for rejection. The person you're seeing may beat a hasty retreat when he or she finds out about your genital herpes. If you get the "I just want to be friends" talk after telling your sweetheart you have herpes, consider this: He or she may have already been looking for a way out, and herpes was as good an excuse as any. What's more, anyone who disdains you or humiliates you for having herpes was never worth your while.

Keep dating, and you will find someone who wants to be with you regardless of your herpes status. There are certainly some who wouldn't mind keeping the intimacy level just short of doing things that could transmit the virus. And of those people, it's likely that at least one will come around, and say, "Hey, I understand there's a risk, but I'm crazy about you, so I'm willing to take it."

Depending on your dating style, you might look for another person who knows he or she has herpes, if only to avoid having to discuss it. If you already use dating services or personal ads, you can also use any of those specifically for people with genital herpes. A search on the Internet for "herpes dating" will turn up several.

Mar
24
2008
  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
http://www.STDromance.com Is a STD dating site for people with herpes, HIV, HPV and other STDS.

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.

Oct
16
2007

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.