Posts tagged HIV exposure

Attempts to Decrease Mother-to-Infant Transfer of HIV in Underdeveloped Countries

HIV prevention ranks high on the priority list, especially among African nations that are seeing the highest rates of transmission. Challenges to implementing ways of preventing the transfer of HIV continue to crop up. One such challenge is in regards to HIV-positive women transferring the virus to their babies. Fortunately, for many communities, access to antiretroviral therapy means a measure of control over the spreading and transferring of HIV. It is in areas that are poor, isolated, and have limited medical resources where women are more likely to pass on the infection to their children.

Nigeria has continued to remain at the top of the list when it comes to death rates from HIV and also in the number of new infections each year. The nation is second only to South Africa for the number of HIV-positive children. To make matters worse, only 20% of those with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatments. Poverty certainly plays a part, and those in rural communities are even more limited in their access to certain types of medical care. One institute decided to implement an idea to help combat this growing problem.

Promoting Education, Screening, and Treatment to Prevent the Transfer of HIV

The idea was to efficiently provide medical testing, treatment, and education to those in rural communities. Women were given a package of services, and their husbands were also encouraged to get involved. Those in the villages who are responsible for providing healthcare were also instructed in how to provide a range of services. These included midwives, as their services are regularly sought after by those in the community. Cultural norms in certain areas include seeking medical attention and advice from individuals other than physicians.

The results of such efforts are promising. There was a decrease of nearly 75% in new infections for areas where this simple and cost-effective plan was put into practice. Results like this give hope that halting the spread of HIV can be achieved, even in regions where resources are limited. Such programs like this may be able to save many lives and have an influence on the transfer of HIV in developing lands.

Why At-Risk Adults, 50 and Over, Should Request HIV Screening Tests

For many aging adults, certain exams and tests at the doctor’s is a given. Those exams, along with their healthcare providers who pay for them, understand that with age comes certain increased health risks. One area of concern, however, has seemed to skip over this generation of adults. In the world of HIV screening tests, many doctors and other healthcare professionals simply overlook those within the older adult range. In light of this oversight, in 2006, the CDC issued a statement recommending that adults aged 50-64 be screened for HIV.

Research prior to that date had shown that this portion of the population had some living with an infection but not knowing it. Hence, we saw this call to healthcare givers to make a habit of testing older adults for the virus. While the suggestion was heeded, the effort was not sustained. This has caused some concern.

In the years leading up to 2006, the numbers were not high as far as HIV testing for this age group was concerned. Within just a three-year period, the percentage dropped from over 5% to just under 4%, this all taking place prior to the CDC‘s exhortation. In hopes of increasing awareness for these adults and their health care providers, the recommendation for HIV testing to be considered routine for this age group went out in 2006. The numbers did pick up immediately after the suggestion by the CDC was made. However, percentages only increased by one or two points. The news that researchers found most alarming was that this increase was not sustained. The number of older adults tested dropped within a couple years to below the average before the recommendation. Risk factors, however, have remained constant for this age group.

Awareness of these facts will hopefully spark additional efforts to revisit what was recommended nearly a decade ago. Not only should doctors be aware and do what they can for HIV screening tests for these adults, but patients may need to self-advocate in this instance. While no one looks forward to the list of health issues faced as we age, HIV is a big one to have crossed off the list. So check with your doctor and ask about HIV risks and testing at your next visit.

Cocaine’s Effect on the Immune System and HIV Infection

Research out of UCLA links cocaine use to a weakened resistance to HIV. What was involved in the study? And what does it mean by at-risk individuals? Read on to learn how cocaine use increases your chances of HIV infection.

It is well documented that there are surprising similarities between the immune systems of mice and humans. That makes them the perfect test subject when it comes to studying infection and deadly diseases. Therefore, a study that had previously only been performed in a dish has now been tested with live subjects. What was the result? Let’s consider the process first.

In previous lab tests, it was determined that the use of cocaine over a period of just three days is enough to affect the immune system. The body starts out with cells that can put up quite a fight with HIV. These immune cells are called CD4 T cells. The cocaine exposure, however, blocks the normal working of these cells by stimulating two of the cell’s receptors.

For five days, mice were given injections. Half were given cocaine, and the other half was given a placebo with saline. Next, HIV was introduced via injections, and then the cocaine/placebo routine continued for another 14 days. At the end of the study, they not only discovered that the mice who were given cocaine had higher concentrations of the virus in their system but also that nearly half of the mice given a placebo had undetectable amounts of the disease.

The CD4 T cells, however, were not affected as suspected. On the contrary, it was the CD8 T cells that seemed to cease functioning. Either way, though, the fact remains that cocaine made it tougher for the immune system to defend itself against HIV.

This study continues to highlight the connection between illicit drug use and HIV infection. It reveals that anyone who uses cocaine is placing themselves at higher risk for infection. While ceasing drug use is the best option, frequent testing is important for one who pursues an at-risk lifestyle.

HPV is a Risk Factor for HIV

HPV is a Risk Factor HIV: Study Confirms

The most common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) in the United States today is human papillomavirus (HPV). How common is it? Most sexually active men and women will get some form of HPV in their life, with an average of about 79 million Americans carrying the virus each year. Fortunately, HPV is rarely life-threatening, and though it has been linked to some forms of cervical cancer, this too is uncommon. Moreover, precancerous signs can be treated. In view of this fact, many doctors refer to HPV as the “common cold” of STDs. Because HPV is so common in the United States, and around the world, doctors usually never screen women for it until they are over the age of thirty. Unfortunately, no known HPV screening process exists for men, which is unfortunate as a study has confirmed that HPV is a risk factor for HIV.

The study linking these two STDs was performed in Kenya, a country where both HIV and HPV is very common. Research indicated that those with HPV, for various reasons, were 300 percent more likely to contract HIV. More surprising was this statistic was found to be true for both women and men.

It is perhaps to be expected that the likelihood of cancer resulting from HPV infections increases with each new exposure. One of the startling findings from this research, however, is the odds of contracting HIV immediately increases with only one infection of HPV. Therefore, if you are sexually active, it is highly encouraged that you receive an HPV vaccination.

This is important for a few reasons. First of all, there is no vaccine for HIV. So, anything a person can do to reduce the risk of contracting HIV is well worth it. Second, although an HPV vaccination is not inexpensive, this is nothing compared to the cost of cancer treatment, or of the daily cocktail of antiretroviral treatments that are needed to counteract HIV.

Hopefully, now that we know that HPV is a risk factor for HIV, it will encourage people to get vaccinated for HPV. This is a simple step that you can take to protect yourself, not only from HPV, but from the potential of contracting both cervical cancer and HIV.

New Guidelines for HIV Occupational Exposure

The United States Public Health Service just this year has released updates to the occupational exposure to HIV procedures. These updates are effective immediately and are aimed at reducing the risk of infection in healthcare workers who have come in contact with the HIV virus. Of course, the focus of any healthcare establishment is to reduce or eliminate the potential of exposure. However, for those times when exposure does occur, this new regimen has been streamlined to be more effective.

The previous guidelines began the process with an evaluation. This was used to determine the level of exposure and helped doctors decide which medications would be most beneficial to use. Recent changes include the elimination of the assessment and proceed right to the taking of three antiretroviral drugs. These three have proved easier to tolerate in patients.

Ideally, officials hope that these new standards will allow healthcare workers to begin treatment within hours after the initial exposure. Care, counseling, treatment and follow up are expected to all take place within a 3 day period. This puts the emphasis on immediate care. The newer guidelines have been revised so as to help those exposed to receive quick, appropriate care and stick with the regimen. To help make the required treatments easier to handle, a four month care option is offered along with the longer six month plan. All of this has been put into place with the hope that those exposed will complete the recommended course of action.

Seeing as an expert in the HIV field may not be readily available at the time of the exposure, a set of the aforementioned guidelines should be given to emergency personnel and providers. These are the ones likely to be the first responders to an incident. Again, it is the timely initiation of the regimen that is emphasized with these new regulations.

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