Posts tagged HIV education
HIV vaccines are important. However, people should not ignore HIV prevention methods. Preventing HIV is a crucial part of protecting yourself. Medical treatments act as a means of protection. However, a study has found that many gay men do not know about the HIV prevention methods that are available.
Gay Men and HIV
Gay and bisexual men have been at risk for HIV for many years. In 2013, the CDC estimated that “Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men made up an estimated 2% of the population but 55% of people living with HIV in the United States.” This is a startling statistic.
With HIV so widespread among the gay community, these men are more likely to contract the disease. The higher rates of HIV are more than likely due to many gay men having multiple partners and practicing anal sex. Unfortunately, this community has a hard road ahead when it comes to decreasing the number of men with this disease. Scientists are constantly researching new methods of preventions and vaccines to help them.
Knowledge Is Power: Knowing Which HIV Prevention Methods Can Protect You
The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that only 4 in 10 gay and bisexual men in Baltimore – who did not have HIV – are not aware that pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP) is an effective HIV prevention method.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP) is a pill that is taken daily to prevent the contraction of the disease. It contains two HIV medication in one pill. For those who take this medication as prescribed, PrEP is known to be 92% effective at preventing infections in men.
HIV prevention methods are an important part of stopping the spread of the disease within the gay community. The researchers tested men in Baltimore because the number of HIV incidents in the state among gay and bisexual men was estimated to be 31 percent in 2011. Their findings suggest that doctors are not presenting the medication to their patients.
According to study leader Julia R. G. Raifman, ScD, a post-doctoral fellow in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology, “Doctors have limited time with their patients, but with gay and bisexual male patients, physicians definitely need to make it a point to discuss HIV risks and whether PrEP is a good option.”
It has become increasingly important for scientists to understand the life cycles of viruses such as HIV, Zika, and Ebola. Learning how these microbes develop aids researchers in their quest for effective vaccines and treatments. Interrupting the vital processes is one way to curb or halt infection. Efforts to probe deeper into the maturing of HIV has yielded helpful insight.
Watching HIV Mature Through Computer Simulations
Computer simulations of HIV were used to follow the maturing process of the virus to see how it infects the host. The biological system that was computer simulated broadened understanding, and possibly hastened the production of more effective antiviral drugs. While the simulations are not real life, scientists admit it comes very close to predicting actual events. Identifying stages of viral maturation is significant to researchers. With the computer-generated model, two main aspects of this process were identified.
Observing the Processes
The capsid is a protein-derived capsule that is crucial to viral development, and correlates to its ability to infect a host. They observed how it is formed, and that it contains the virus’ genetic material. When the virus infects a cell, a bud is formed on the surface of that cell. Within this particle are proteins and genetic material. This bud will break free and travel through the body. During this traveling time, the proteins are broken up. The resulting pieces pair up, and as they do, the capsid is formed and surrounds the RNA.
As this process occurs, there is constant motion and flipping around. According to researchers, this happens so that proteins are correctly oriented when they pair up, and it helps control the rate of the building process.
The complexity of these described processes had to be simplified for the simulations. However, the more information that can be gathered and programmed into the computer models, the more exact they become. Scientists are confident that similar models could be observed for other types of viruses that also have a capsid. The Ebola and Zika viruses are both included in this category. With enough information and understanding, developing ways to effectively treat these resilient infections may become possible in the future.
Certain physiological occurrences are expected for patients who are infected with HIV. Bone loss is one of the effects that tops the list. It has been documented that those with the disease are more likely to present with fractures than someone who is not HIV-positive. High rates of osteoporosis and osteopenia are not new. However, recent research shows a discrepancy between the sexes in this matter. Further investigation revealed some information that could prove helpful for physicians as they treat HIV-positive individuals.
The most noticeable difference is the percentage of men versus the percentage of women who present with osteoporosis or osteopenia. Men actually have a much higher rate of the condition than women. It is estimated that 90% of HIV-infected men have bone loss while females with HIV come in around 60%.
HIV causes chronic inflammation due to disruption and dysfunction of the immune system. Antiretroviral therapies also add to the body’s burden of maintaining bone mass. These conditions are known to slowly erode bone. Studies show that in preteen and teenage males, there is an increase of what is called macrophages. These white blood cells, when found in the bone, are responsible for resorption during remodeling of the bone when it is continuous.
Predicting and Preventing Bone Loss
Digging a bit deeper, the more of these specialized cells there were, the less dense the bone material proved to be. If the production of the macrophages increases, it seems to indicate bone loss. It is hoped that with this information, newly infected patients can be watched for these types of changes, and thereby the amount of bone lost can be reduced.
For the feminine side, chronic inflammation generally is more prevalent in females. However, due to the presence of estrogen, the rate of bone loss is lessened. Estrogen acts as a shield against some of the inflammation. Estrogen is also effective at blocking the production of macrophages. These two properties together seem to account for the lower figures of bone loss in females when compared to males.
Much can be accomplished with a team effort. This is true for most of the natural world. By forming networks and through communication, teamwork is seen in all walks of life, even in microbes. Viruses are included in this phenomenon.
Some years back, it was discovered that viruses do interact with each other. Recent studies are showing that this interaction plays a large role in the success of treating the infection. Researchers are hoping that with further study and clarification on the details, new treatments could be developed that will prove even more effective.
How Viruses Use Colonies to Resist Treatment
One study recently published its findings on the subject of viral diversity and social interaction. For a viral infection to take hold, a colony is formed. With HIV, this is also true. Once formed, the colony that resists treatment is normally the one with the most genetic diversity. The more mutations found within the colony, the better chance the virus has of becoming immune to drug therapy. Basically, diversity leads to a stronger hold on the host.
This is not good for the patient or the medical professionals who are trying to treat him or her. It does, however, help to explain why some treatment does not work as effectively as expected. Before, a drug was designed to focus on a single cell. Trying to treat an infection this way leaves out the potential for variants within the infection.
This brings us to the next point. When the viruses interact with each other, they form certain connections. Understanding how and why they communicate could unlock certain secrets that, in turn, could lead to better treatments—or even an eventual cure.
Changing the perspective on how to treat a viral infection, whether HIV, hepatitis A, or others, could help researchers find even more effective ways of eradicating a virus. When taking into account the virus’s social abilities along with the diversity it promotes, scientists become better equipped to handle the problem. Further investigation on such matters is underway.
HIV is adept at making its way through cellular defenses in order to overtake the cell. Just how this happens has been the center of study for a long while. A better understanding of the processes involved can open doorways to keeping infections from spreading, or even occurring in the first place.
Cellular Infiltration and Cyclophilin A
The protein named cyclophilin A carries out numerous duties. It plays a key role in immune response, particularly when it comes to inflammation. Folding and sending off new proteins is also on its list of tasks. This protein is found in multiple tissues throughout the body. While much good is accomplished by cyclophilin A, too much of a good thing can be bad. In this case, conditions ranging from asthma to cancer can be responsible for the malfunction or overproduction of the protein. How does this relate to HIV and cellular infiltration?
HIV has an outer shell made up of proteins called a capsid. It is not known how, but the virus can dupe the cyclophilin A into creating a cover. This cloak binds to the HIV, which is then escorted into the nucleus of its cellular host. Once inside the center of the cell, the virus commandeers it. HIV then begins to copy its own genetic code, using the cellular mechanisms it overtook.
The picture painted by this information seems bleak, but there is a catch to the system. Like anything, balance is the key to success. The delicate systems cooperating together are likewise balanced in their own way. For example, researchers have found that too much of the protein can cause issues when binding to the virus. This can lead to a failed mission for the HIV. On the other hand, too little cyclophilin A, and the virus can be detected and destroyed by the immune system.
Now, scientists have the task of determining how best to use this new information in the fight against HIV infection. Having a better understanding of the inner workings can prove vital to developing new strategies against the virus, and the continued research is very promising.