Testing equipment used to find out a patient's diabetes risk.

Diabetes Risk: HIV Patients Have a Higher Risk

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Testing equipment used to find out a patient's diabetes risk.

Researchers discover that the HIV virus may cause patients to have a higher diabetes risk.

Patients with HIV are always at risk. They are left vulnerable to infections and other comorbidities due to the virus attacking their immune system. Scientists were startled when they made the revelation that HIV patients had a 4 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. This discovery was made in a recent study published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care online journal.

Despite Low Obesity Rates, Diabetes Risk Persist

Obesity is a key indicator of diabetes. However, many patients with HIV do not have obesity, a fact leaving scientist confused. To find out just how prevalent diabetes is among the HIV population, researchers launched a probe into two sets of data from 2009-2010.

They analyzed a survey of 8,610 HIV-positive individuals in the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) and another survey of 5,064 people without the disease who participated in the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Comparing these two sets of data would give them insights into the diabetes risk of those with and without HIV.

Here is the breakdown of what the researchers found:

  • One in 10 HIV patients had diabetes.
  • 4% of those with diabetes had type 1.
  • Over of those with diabetes had type 2.
  • 44% of HIV patients had and unspecified strain.
  • Over 8% of the general population had diabetes.
  • The occurrence of diabetes was 3.8% higher in HIV patients.

This study was able to show that HIV patients are at risk. However, since the research was purely observational, scientists were not able to make a definitive conclusion as to why. They know that obesity is still a risk factor, but due to its high absence in individuals with HIV, they have to think differently.

The researchers had this to say: “Additional research would help to determine whether [diabetes] screening guidelines should be modified to include HIV infection as a risk factor for [the condition], and to identify optimal management strategies in this population.”

A 3D model of an HIV neutralizing antibody.

New HIV Neutralizing Antibody Proves Successful

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A 3D model of an HIV neutralizing antibody.

Scientists are holding for a new HIV neutralizing antibody.

It is always good news when scientists make brand-new developments in HIV research. Breakthrough information helps scientists and doctors create new medicine and therapies for patients. A recent study from the Rockefeller University in New York and Prof Florian Klein, University Hospital Cologne and German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) has found an HIV neutralizing antibody effective against an HIV strains.

10-1074: The HIV Neutralizing Antibody

Scientists are optimistic about the newest generation of HIV neutralizing antibodies. Prof. Florian Klein and his team decided to test one of these antibodies. They wanted to find out if it could be used to treat the disease.

Prof. Klein states “These antibodies are highly potent and are able to effectively neutralize a large number of different HIV strains. Therefore, they play an important role in the quest for and development of an HIV vaccine.”

The 10-1074 antibody targets a certain structure on the HIV envelope protein. The antibody proved effect as a drug and antibody during testing. The results of this research saw a high antiviral activity within patients who have HIV.

Positive News

Through the collaborative work among the three institutions, this is positive news for patients with HIV. They are already looking at how the virus escapes most antibodies.

“We performed a comprehensive HIV sequence analysis to investigate the dynamics and mechanisms HIV uses to escape the selection pressure by the antibody,” says Dr. Henning Gruell, one of the first authors of the current publication.

HIV is still a troubling disease. By the end of 2015, there were 2.1 million newly infection patients with HIV and 36.7 million people living with the virus. More than 18.2 million are prescribed antiretroviral therapy. These numbers are startling.

The most important thing anyone can do in the fight against HIV is get tested. Knowing your status helps you take the rights steps to protect your health. Visit an HIV doctor today.

A serious clinician studying a microscope, trying to make an HIV breakthrough.

HIV Breakthrough Deciphers the Structure of the Virus

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A serious clinician studying a microscope, trying to make an HIV breakthrough.

An HIV breakthrough may have solved the structure of intasome.

There is one question that has eluded scientists for so many years. How does HIV integrate into human host DNA and replicate in the body? More than a decade later, researchers have found the answer. An HIV breakthrough at the Salk Institute has deciphered the structure of HIV machinery.

Intasome: The Machinery Making Trouble

HIV intasome is a large molecular machine that adds viral DNA into the genomes of its host. This machinery is responsible for HIV’s elusive nature and its ability to hide within the body.

According to Dmitry Lyumkis, senior author, and fellow at the Salk Institute: “HIV is a clever virus and has learned to evade even some of the best drugs on the market. Understanding the mechanisms of viral escape and developing more broadly applicable drugs will be a major direction in the future.”

Scientists have come up with a way to combat intasome before by using a drug called integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs). It is approved to treat the virus in both the U.S. and Europe. However, the drugs and HIV machinery are a bit of a conundrum. Without being able to study intasome on the atomic level, the drug’s effects are not as powerful as it should be, leaving scientist stumped on how it should work.

How This HIV Breakthrough Was Made

New technology allows us to do better things. The same is true within the scientific community. The state-of-the-art imaging technique called the single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) gave researchers the ability to image large, complex and dynamic molecules. Basically, they were able to see intasome structure clearly.

The molecular machine is composed of a four-part core but has many other complex parts to it. The researchers believe that this allows it to gain access to the cell’s nucleus through active transport instead of waiting for the cell to divide. Lyumkis calls for understanding each of these parts a bit more to combat the disease.

Several orange and white antiretroviral drugs.

Antiretroviral Drugs for HIV Link to Neurological Issues

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Several orange and white antiretroviral drugs.

How dangerous are the side effects of antiretroviral drugs?

In the fight against HIV, antiretroviral drugs are the strongest weapon we have. While these medications do not cure or kill the virus, they stop it from progressing any further. Unfortunately, this treatment is a combination of several different types of drugs. When combined, they slow down HIV. However, according to new research, they may also leave significant neurological damage.

The Risks of Antiretroviral Drugs

Like most drugs for serious conditions, antiretroviral drugs do have side effects. However, their ability to stop the progression of HIV to AIDS has outweighed any minor complications. To this day, they are so successful that patients with AIDS are a rarity.

Some patients have been known to experience appetite loss, lipodystrophy, diarrhea, fatigue, mood changes, nausea, and bone loss. Scientists are working to make these drugs stronger and safer for patients. With the right precautions, patients can even make the side effects less debilitating.

The Connection to Alzheimer’s Disease

At the University of Pennsylvania, research has implicated some antiretroviral drugs in the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. They suggest that protease inhibitors are the cause. Protease inhibitors are the drugs that work the best against HIV. Apparently, some of these drugs promote the growth of the peptide beta-amyloid, which damages neurons.

“Protease inhibitors are very effective antiviral therapies, but they do have inherent toxicities,” said Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, senior author on the study. “Our findings may cause us to rethink how we’re using these drugs and even consider developing an adjunctive therapy to reduce some of these negative effects.”

Through testing, they were able to identify that the drugs did indeed cause the reaction and damage to the neurons. However, they are working to inhibit the enzyme called BACE1, which leads to the production of the beta-amyloid.

“Targeting PERK and/or BACE1 could help contribute to a therapeutic approach to treat drug-associated cognitive disorders.” said Jordan-Sciutto.

The screen of an EKG machine, showing the line moving towards a cartoon image of a heart. This patient shows no risk of heart attack.

Heart Attack: HIV Patients at Nearly Double the Risk

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The screen of an EKG machine, showing the line moving towards a cartoon image of a heart. This patient shows no risk of heart attack.

HIV patients need to be cautious of their heart attack risk.

Other than the brain, the heart is one of the most important organs in our body. It happens to also be a target for viruses like HIV. HIV positive individuals need to take caution and check on their heart regularly. A study shows that the risk for heart attack is much greater in those troubled by this disease.

Predicting Heart Attack Risk

The heart is vulnerable in America. At least, that is what the statistics say. Here are the facts that the CDC found:

  • Every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack.
  • Every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.
  • Of those American, 525,00 are experiencing their first attack and 210,000 have experienced one before.
  • One of 5 heart attacks is silent. This means that the patient is not aware it is happening but still suffers damage to the body.

These are truly awful facts. But what the scientists at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found may spell worse trouble for HIV patients. They are almost twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack, which more than what physicians have predicted for the general population.

Predicting the risk of heart attack is important. If a doctor discovers it early on, they can prescribe the right medicine to lower the risk. “If you have a higher risk for heart attack or stroke, your ability to benefit from one of these drugs is greater and justifies the possible side effects of a medication,” says Dr. Matthew Feinstein, cardiovascular disease fellow at Northwestern University.

Dr. Feinstein goes on to state that HIV increases heart risk by causing chronic inflammation, which can lead to plaque buildup in the body’s tissue. Eventually, this series of events in your body can lead to heart attack or stroke.

The current predictor tools for heart risk need to be adjusted. Heart medications are only given to those in serious need. If physicians cannot accurately tell if HIV patients need those medications, this will lead to dangerous consequences.

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