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The fight against HIV / AIDS

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  • The fight against HIV / AIDS

    The origin of HIV has been found in wild chimpanzees living in southern Cameroon, researchers report.

    A virus called SIVcpz (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus from chimps) was thought to be the source, but had only been found in a few captive animals.

    Now, an international team of scientists has identified a natural reservoir of SIVcpz in animals living in the wild.

    The findings are to be published in Science magazine.

    It is thought that people hunting chimpanzees first contracted the virus - and that cases were first seen in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo - the nearest urban area - in 1930.

    Scientists believe the rareness of cases - and the fact that symptoms of Aids differ significantly between individuals - explains why it was another 50 years before the virus was named.

    This team of researchers, including experts from the universities of Nottingham, Montpellier and Alabama, have been working for a decade to identify the source of HIV.

    While SIVcpz was only identified in captive animals, the possibility remained that yet another species could be the natural reservoir of both HIV and SIVcpz.

    It had only been possible to detect SIVcpz using blood test - which meant that only captive animals could be studied.

    This study, carried out alongside experts from the Project Prevention du Sida au Cameroun (PRESICA) in Cameroon, involved analysing chimpanzee faeces, collected from the forest floor in remote jungle areas.

    This was useful because University of Alabama researchers had been able to determine the genetic sequences of the chimpanzee viruses - which could then be searched for in the faecal samples.

    Lab tests detected SIVcpz specific antibodies and genetic information linked to the virus in up to 35% of chimpanzees in some groups.

    All of the data was then sent to the University of Nottingham for analysis, which revealed the extremely close genetic relationship between some of the samples and strains of HIV.

    Chimpanzees in south-east Cameroon were found to have the viruses most similar to the form of HIV that has spread throughout the world.

    The researchers say that, as well as solving the mystery about the origin of the virus, the findings open up avenues for future research.

    But SIVcpz has not been found to cause any Aids-like illnesses in chimpanzees, so researchers are investigating why the animals do not suffer any symptoms, when humans - who are so genetically similar - do.

    Paul Sharp, professor of genetics at the University of Nottingham said: "It is likely that the jump between chimps and humans occurred in south-east Cameroon - and that virus then spread across the world.

    "When you consider that HIV probably originated more than 75 years ago, it is most unlikely that there are any viruses out there that will prove to be more closely related to the human virus."

    He said the team were currently working to understand the genetic differences between SIVcpz and HIV evolved as a response to the species jump.

    Keith Alcorn of Aidsmap said: "The researchers have pinned down a very specific location where they believe the precursor of HIV came from.

    "But there are vast areas of west Africa where other forms of SIVcpz lineages exist, and the possibility remains for human infection.

    Yusef Azad, policy director of the National Aids Trust said: "This research is interesting as all discoveries which relate to the history and origins of HIV could be of value to the vital work being carried out by scientists in developing a HIV vaccine."


    HIV-like virus found in wild chimps: Discovery supports theory that human HIV pandemic came from African apes

  • #2
    Report: More than 2 million kids have HIV

    "Children are the missing face of the AIDS pandemic."

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — More than 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, almost all in sub-Saharan Africa where there is no access to treatment and death almost certain, seven leading child advocacy organizations said.

    "We are failing children," said Dean Hirsch, chairman of the Global Movement for Children, which issued an urgent appeal to governments, donors and the pharmaceutical industry to recognize a child's right to treatment as fundamental.

    The movement, made up of seven organizations, released a report Friday that painted a grim picture of the impact of the disease on children: 700,000 children were infected with the HIV virus in 2005, bringing the total to 2.3 million, and 570,000 died of AIDS — one every minute.

    Less than 5% of HIV-positive children have access to the pediatric AIDS treatment they desperately need, the report said.

    "The deaths of these children are not inevitable," said Hirsch, president of World Vision International, a Christian relief organization. "An HIV positive child can respond to anti-retroviral treatment. So let's deliver on the promise — the promise of treatment for all by 2010."

    Last year, world leaders at the U.N. summit and leaders of the seven richest industrialized nations and Russia pledged to come as close as possible to universal treatment by the end of the decade.

    For this to happen, the report said special efforts must be made for children. The first step is providing drugs to pregnant women with HIV to prevent mother-to-child transmission — the way 90% of children with HIV became infected. Youngsters with the virus must also be given antibiotics and anti-retroviral drugs, it said.

    "Without treatment, most children with HIV will die before their fifth birthday," the report said.

    "Children are the missing face of the AIDS pandemic," said Ann Veneman, executive director of U.N. children's agency, lamenting that in the 25 years since AIDS started spreading around the globe, the world has looked at it primarily as a disease of adults.

    The UNICEF executive director urged world leaders to keep their commitment to a massive scaling up of HIV prevention, treatment and care.

    Millions of children "have watched their worlds shatter around them because of this disease, losing parents, teachers, a sense of security and hope for the future," Veneman said.

    She called for simple diagnostic tests for young children, more and cheaper anti-retroviral drugs designed specifically for children to use, and improved health care systems in developing countries.

    Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children USA, said the percentage of girls and young women of childbearing age with HIV is increasing, and therefore the risk of mother-to-child transmission is increasing even though effective and affordable treatments have been available for the past 15 years.

    African governments pledged to spend 15% of their national budgets on public health systems but "less than one-third of those countries have achieved that goal," MacCormack said. The Group of Eight also pledged significant increases in their funding for public health "and to date those pledges haven't been entirely kept either," he said.

    "So we suffer this tragedy of hundreds of thousands of unnecessary child deaths each year because we have not found a way to make the investments and deliver the health facilities to those in greatest need," MacCormack said.

    Veneman said a new AIDS report to be released Tuesday — the eve of the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on AIDS — will show that investing in AIDS treatment and testing is paying off in some areas with lower prevalence rates.



    • #3
      Children missing out on HIV drugs


      • #4
        India 'has most people with HIV'

        India now has more people living with HIV than any other country, a UNAIDS report has revealed.
        The report shows that India now accounts for two-thirds of HIV cases in the whole of Asia.

        An estimated 5.7 million Indians were infected by the end of 2005, overtaking the 5.5 million cases estimated in South Africa.

        However, While 18.8% of South African adults were living with HIV, the figure in India was 0.9%.....



        • #5
          U.S. 'sees rise in unsafe gay sex'

          There is evidence of an increase in unsafe sexual practices by men who have sex with other men in the US, according to the annual UN Aids report.
          The report's section on the US also focuses on the growing number of black women becoming infected with HIV.

          The number of people living with HIV in the US has reached its highest level ever, put at 1.2 million in 2005.

          The report says widespread access to the latest drugs has kept the number of Aids-related deaths relatively low.

          About 16,000 people died last year, but preventing new infections remains a challenge.

          Half of all HIV infections diagnosed in 2004 were men who have sex with men - and the report says there is evidence of resurgent risky behaviour in this group.....



          • #6
            HIV infections 'may have peaked'

            The rate at which people are infected with HIV may have peaked in the late 1990s, according to a UNAIDS report.
            It found the incidence of new HIV infections appears to have stabilised for the first time in 25 years.

            UNAIDS said improved funding and access to drugs appears to be producing results - but said HIV remains "an exceptional threat".

            It warned the infection rate is still rising in some countries, and record numbers now live with the virus.....



            • #7
              "...In the Middle East, about 64,000 people were newly infected in 2005, bringing the number of those living with AIDS to about 440,000. The national adult prevalence is very low in this region, less than 0.1 percent of the population, except in Sudan. But the epidemic is growing in several countries including Algeria, Iran, Libya and Morocco...."

              Once mystery illness, AIDS now a top global threat


              • #8
                The fight against HIV / AIDS

                If systematically practiced, circumcision could save 6 million (including 2 millions in the 10 next years) sub-saharan africans from catching the HIV.

                Complete article from Plos Medicine


                • #9
                  Originally posted by phylay
                  If systematically practiced, circumcision could save 6 million (including 2 millions in the 10 next years) sub-saharan africans from catching the HIV.

                  Complete article from Plos Medicine
                  Yeah, I read this article on teh BBC website....sent it a number of English male friends...who think Circumcision isn't natural and barbaric.


                  • #10
                    I think there might need to be a few more strategies than this



                    • #11
                      Agree, the benefits of circumcision are numerous, but AIDS is a much bigger animal to tackle circumcized or not.
                      A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty - Mark Bradford.


                      • #12
                        HIV/Aids pandemic gains renewed strength

                        Three-year-old Emmanuel stands outside his house in Kampala, Uganda. Emmanuel has been infected with HIV since his birth, and lives now with some relatives as his parents, both are HIV positive, are unable to take care of him.

                        The spread of the HIV/Aids pandemic continues unabated, with the number of people infected rising once more in some countries which had been thought to be beating the disease, according to the UN.

                        There are now 39.5 million living with HIV infection, according to the annual UNAIDS report, released ahead of World Aids Day on December 1, and 4.3 million of those were infected in 2006. That is 400,000 more than were infected in 2004.

                        Most alarming is the increased prevalence in Uganda, long held up as a showcase to the world of what could be achieved in Africa with campaigning, education and widespread condom use. The report shows a rise from a low of 5.6% infection among men and 6.9% among women in 2000 to 6.5% in men and 8.8% in women in 2004.

                        The reasons for the increase are not clear, but there has been a shift in the message from Uganda's leadership. Between the early 1990s and early 2000s, HIV prevalence fell sharply in major cities among pregnant women - the group most commonly monitored because they have contact with health services - as President Yoweri Museveni worked to raise awareness of the dangers of HIV and put the authority of his office behind condom use.

                        But in recent years the message on condoms has been diluted in favour of greater emphasis on sexual abstinence until marriage - in line with the thinking of the Bush administration, which is spending millions of dollars on HIV prevention and treatment. Critics say many women are not in a position to abstain from sex and that many are infected by their husbands.

                        The report says further research is needed to validate the apparent trend "but the current findings do hint at the possible erosion of the gains Uganda made against Aids in the 1990s". There is evidence of erratic condom use and more men having sex with multiple partners.

                        In Mali also the epidemic could be growing after remaining stable for some years, with HIV prevalence among pregnant women rising from 3.3% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2005. While Kenya's epidemic is in decline, the report says there are suggestions that this could be because of the high death rate and "the saturation of infection among people most at risk".

                        In North America and western Europe also, the gains made by programmes aimed at preventing infection have not been maintained. The number of infections in the US, with a far greater proportion in African-Americans and Hispanics, is stable but not declining. In the UK, there is a steady rise.

                        In western Europe, says the report, "the largest increases have been reported in the UK, where HIV remains one of the principal communicable disease threats". New diagnoses are increasing in areas other than London, which has the most cases. Most of those with HIV were infected in sub-Saharan Africa. Fear of stigma and discrimination is discouraging Africans in the UK from being tested, says the UN.

                        Peter Piot, UNAIDS's executive director, was concerned by the trends. "This is worrying - as we know increased HIV prevention programmes in these countries have shown progress in the past, Uganda being a prime example ... Countries are not moving at the same speed as their epidemics."

                        HIV/Aids pandemic gains renewed strength


                        • #13
                          Surveillance for the HIV virus is weak in most of the world and prevention and treatment programmes often fail to reach high-risk drug users, homosexuals and sex workers, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

                          In a message marking World AIDS Day, being celebrated under the theme of Accountability, the WHO's Acting Director-General Anders Nordstrom said that tackling the AIDS epidemic remained one of the world's most pressing public health challenges.

                          Only 1.6 million people or 24 per cent of the 6.8 million people worldwide who need the life-extending therapy receive it, according to the latest joint report of UNAIDS and the WHO.

                          "We have a very long way to go still in the provision of medicines to those who need them," the WHO's Nordstrom said.

                          "HIV surveillance remains weak in almost all regions, particularly among marginalized groups. Those at highest risk men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users are not reliably reached through HIV prevention and treatment strategies," he said.

                          People most at risk of exposure to the deadly virus do not always know how to protect themselves and often lack access to condoms, clean needles and syringes, according to Nordstrom.

                          "Even in countries where the epidemic has a very high impact, such as Swaziland and South Africa, a large proportion of the population do not believe they are at risk," he added.

                          Nearly 40 million adults and children are infected worldwide and HIV infection is rising in every region of the world, especially in East Asia and in Eastern Europe/Central Asia, according to a UNAIDS/WHO report.

                          Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminded governments of their duty to increase access to anti-retroviral drugs for all AIDS sufferers, without discrimination.

                          "It means holding governments accountable for obligations of immediate effect, for example where scaling-up access (to the drugs) discriminates against a certain group such as children, those involved in the sale of sexual services or injecting drug users," Arbour said in a statement.

                          UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said AIDS has become the greatest challenge of the generation, but for far too long the world had been in denial about the epidemic which emerged 25 years ago.

                          "Accountability the theme of this World AIDS Day requires every president and prime minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that 'AIDS stops with me'," Annan said.

                          AIDS programmes fail to reach high-risk groups: UN


                          • #14
                            Circumcising African men may cut their risk of catching AIDS in half, the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday as it stopped two clinical trials in Africa, when preliminary results suggested that circumcision worked so well that it would be unethical not to offer it to uncircumcised men in the trials.

                            AIDS experts immediately hailed the result, saying it gave the world a new way to fight the spread of AIDS, and the directors of the two largest funds for fighting the disease said they would now consider paying for circumcisions.

                            "This is very exciting news," said Daniel Halperin, an H.I.V. specialist at Harvard's Center for Population and Development, who has argued in scientific journals for years that circumcision slows the spread of AIDS in the parts of Africa where it is practiced.

                            In an interview from Zimbabwe, Halperin added: "I have no doubt that, as word of this gets around, millions of African men will want to get circumcised and that will save many lives."

                            But experts also cautioned that circumcision is no cure-all. It only lessens the chances that a man will catch the virus, it is expensive compared to condoms, abstinence or other methods, and the surgery has serious risks if performed by folk healers using dirty blades, as often happens in rural Africa.

                            Sex education messages to young men need to make it clear that "this does not mean that you have an absolute protection," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, an AIDS researcher and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the trials. Circumcision should be added to other prevention methods, not replace them, he said.

                            The two trials were carried out among nearly 3,000 men in Kisumu, Kenya, and nearly 5,000 men in Rakai, Uganda. None were infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS; they were divided into circumcised and uncircumcised groups. They were given safe sex advice — although many presumably did not take it — and retested regularly.

                            The trials were stopped by the National Institutes of Health's Data Safety and Monitoring Board this week after data showed that the Kenyan men had a 53 percent reduction in new H.I.V. cases and the Ugandan men a 48 percent reduction.

                            In Kenya, 22 of the 1,393 circumcised young men in the study caught the disease, compared with 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men.

                            Those results echo the finding of a trial completed last year in the town of Orange Farm, South Africa, financed by the French government, which demonstrated a reduction of 60 percent among circumcised men.

                            Two agencies, one under the State Department and the other financed by a number of countries, said they now would be willing to pay for circumcisions, which they have not before, citing a lack of hard evidence that it works.

                            Dr. Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said that if a country seeking money submitted plans to conduct safe, sterile circumcisions, "I think it's very likely that our technical panel would approve it."

                            Ambassador Mark Dybul, executive director of the $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in the State Department, said his agency "will support implementation of safe medical male circumcision for HIV/AIDS prevention."

                            He too warned that it was only one new weapon.

                            "Prevention efforts must reinforce the ABC approach — abstain, be faithful and correct and consistent use of condoms," he said.

                            Uncircumcised men are thought to be more susceptible to AIDS because the underside of the foreskin is rich in Langerhans' cells, which attach easily to the virus. The foreskin may also suffer small tears during intercourse, making it more susceptible to infection.

                            Researchers have long noted that parts of Africa where circumcision is practiced — particularly in the Muslim countries of West Africa — had much lower AIDS rates. But it was unclear whether other factors, such as religion or polygamy, played important roles.

                            Outside Muslim regions, circumcision is spotty. In South Africa, for example, the Xhosa people circumcise teen-age boys, while Zulus, whose traditional homeland abuts theirs, do not. AIDS is common in members of both tribes.

                            In recent years, as word has spread that circumcision might be protective, many African men have sought it out. A Zambian hospital offered $3 circumcisions last year, and Swaziland trained 60 doctors to give them at $40 each after its waiting lists grew.

                            "Private practitioners also do it," Halperin said. "In some places, it's $20, in others, much more. Lots of the wealthy elite have already done it. It prevents STD's, it's seen as cleaner, sex is better, women like it. I predict that a lot of men who can't afford private clinics will start clamoring for it."

                            Study finds circumcision reduces AIDS risk


                            • #15
                              At a glance

                              · 38.6 million people were living with HIV last year, of whom 24.5 million men, women and children were in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries more than a third of the population are infected.

                              · 4.1 million became infected with the virus during the course of the year - 2.7 million in sub-Saharan Africa. UN agencies are calling for more efforts on prevention.

                              · 2.8 million people died of Aids-related illnesses in 2005.

                              · Around 8.3 million people in Asia are HIV infected, two-thirds in India.

                              Breakthrough hailed as study shows circumcision can halve HIV risk | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited


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