Posts tagged HIV prevention
Most people know that HIV negatively impacts the immune system, crippling the body’s ability to fight off infections. The key to fighting the virus is to find out how it infiltrates the immune system. New research has made some developments into HIV and tuberculosis bacterium (MTB).
The Danger of Tuberculosis Bacterium
Tuberculosis bacterium (MTB) is the bacteria that causes tuberculosis to occur. Normally, the immune system prevents this infection by enclosing the bacteria in scar tissue. It is due to this special defense that only around 10 percent of people with “latent” tuberculosis develops the condition. However, if a patient is infected with HIV, they are at a greater risk of contracting the disease.
How Doctors Are Using Research to Develop a Vaccine
When the researchers at the Linköping University in Sweden discovered the connection between HIV and tuberculosis bacterium, they wanted to know more. They first started their inquiry by examining dendritic cells. These cells are a crucial aspect of the immune system, breaking down the bacteria. The body’s T-cells then kills the leftover pieces of bacteria before it has a chance to harm the body any further.
HIV inhibits the dendritic and T-cells. While most research has only proved that the virus affects T-cells, its interaction with dendritic cells is a new development.
“We have now shown that HIV has a clear effect also on the innate immune defense, in particular, the dendritic cells, which link the innate and the adaptive immune defenses. Much work remains to be done, but we can already suggest that one important future treatment strategy for infection should be to find ways to strengthen or boost cells in the immune defense using what is known as ‘host-directed therapy’,” says study lead Robert Blomgran.
Tuberculosis is a disease that mainly affects the lungs, making life difficult. Hopefully, that vaccine can be developed, so that HIV patients can be better protected.
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.”
Antibodies are meant to identify and neutralize bacteria and viruses. In the fight against HIV, scientists hope to capitalize on this protein in order to cure people suffering from the virus. In a new study at the Rutgers University, researchers are hoping to find a way to prevent the contraction of HIV by using an experimental antibody.
The Experimental Antibody: VRC01
The AMP (Antibody Meditated Prevention) study is a clinical trial that is currently looking to prevent HIV-negative men and transgender individuals from acquiring HIV. The antibody, known as VRC01, was originally found in a man who was able to combat the infection without the use of medication. When scientists discovered this, they worked to recreate the antibody and test its effects on others.
The study targeted men who have sex with other men (homosexual, bisexual, and transgender) for a specific reason. According to the CDC, new diagnoses of HIV in the United States have dropped 19 percent from 2005 to 2014. However, among the Hispanic/Latino and African American community, infections in gay and bisexual men have increased.
Scientists feel like the study will have a positive impact. According to infectious disease specialist and site leader Shobba Swaminathan, “The study is providing ways for Rutgers to effectively partner with and engage the community effectively to ensure a positive impact that will last long after the study is completed.”
The study is testing the antibody on 2,700 HIV-negative men and transgender individuals who have sex with men. The antibody works by preventing the infection from attaching to host CD4 and T Cells. This helps the immune system function properly and fight infections. So far, laboratory tests have shown the antibody to be 90 percent effective.
Swaminathan is optimistic about this study. She calls it “The first study of this magnitude to see whether an antibody infusion can help prevent new HIV infections. If it proves effective, it could potentially pave a way for developing a vaccine for HIV infection.”
While the world clamors to fight epidemics like HIV, recent findings show that one major contributor to health in the future is being neglected. Worldwide, adolescents are considered a generally healthy population. This assumption leads to focusing on other groups when it comes to healthcare, both preventative and otherwise. One study yielded sobering facts about the up-and-coming generation regarding healthcare, unsafe sex practices, and overall well-being.
Study Shows Teens Are Taking Chances With Unsafe Sex
The report targeted those aged 10–24 years old. Over 65% of those in this age group live in countries where certain factors threaten their well-being, with little attention being paid to this fact. Since 1990, unsafe sex practices have been a risk factor for poor health. In that year, the problem ranked at #13 on the list of health threats. In 2013 we saw it climb to the number two spot. This makes unsafe sex the fastest growing threat to youth today. Results like HIV, AIDS, injury, violence, and early pregnancy set the stage for ill health in the future. Most areas where the risks are increasing, the health problems in question are treatable, even preventable. Unfortunately, little attention is given to these matters, much to the chagrin of health experts.
In many regions where this threat is a growing concern, conflicting healthcare laws related to providing treatment for adolescents can limit progress in these areas. Another obstacle is healthcare coverage in that in some lands, a married woman may have access to contraceptives, but an unmarried girl legally does not. Around the world, this age group has the poorest coverage.
The Future of the World’s Health at Stake
These youths make up the largest generation of all time. Challenges facing medical science, like HIV, will only mount if this growing generation is not taken into consideration now. HIV is but one example. Really there are a number of risk factors—with depression and alcohol abuse topping the list. As this generation ages, the state of the world’s health will be strongly influenced by their state of health. Currently, that paints a bleak picture of the future as far as health and well-being are concerned.
One of the best ways to stop the spread of disease is through vaccines. This long-used defense has halted numerous and dangerous infections over the years. It is no wonder then that scientists are urgently searching for ways to develop an HIV vaccine. A number of factors present obstacles that have, so far, stood in the way of progress.
3 Struggles in the Search for a HIV Vaccine
The menacing virus is an elusive microbe that evades detection both from the human immune system and most HIV vaccine models tested against it. What makes the virus so effective is the ability it has to mutate, which happen rapidly. Vaccines generally work by using non-infectious material and introducing it into the body where the immune system can identify and then attack it. The quickly changing virus means that a lesser amount of the virus is actually found and eliminated.
Another factor that gets in the way is the design of the HIV itself. The virus is packed into a type of envelope, which is coated with sugars that come from the host. Because this is on the outside of the microbe, it makes it difficult for the immune cells to identify it as an intruder.
A third issue in the mix is the lack of a living model that researchers can use to test potential HIV vaccines. This last obstacle has limited progress the most. Recent developments may finally change that.
A team of researchers has found that a certain species of primates has an immune system that closely resembles that of the human immune system. In order to be able to use this to their advantage, a virus that resembled HIV but that could infect the animal, had to be developed. The researchers, with some trial and error, were able to accomplish this. The result is a virus that infects and creates AIDS-like symptoms in the host animal. With a better model to test vaccines and monitor the viral envelope, they are hopeful to speed up HIV vaccine research and development.