Why HIV cure remains elusive

A new study has shed light on why the researchers have failed to develop a cure and new treatments for HIV.

In the report, an Australian scientist explained how he used computer simulations to discover that a population starting from a single human immunodeficiency virus can evolve fast enough to escape immune defenses.

These results are novel because the discovery runs counter to the commonly held belief that evolution under these circumstances is very slow.

“I believe the search for a cure for AIDS has failed so far because we do not fully understand how HIV evolves,” said Jack da Silva, Ph.D., author of the study from the School of Molecularand Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.

Read more about this study in the journal Genetics. ANI Mar 16, 2012






New website

Finally the new ECCT website is born!ECCT_Zigg_image-cropped

The original went into a black hole after the 2009 Kalahari Augrabies race…such an awesome challenge in the desert…251km of indelible trail running memories. Alas my celebrations were derailed when I was diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow…as a result of which much of 2010 and 2011 was spent tethered to Constantiaberg Mediclinic…not for the faint hearted! Finally had a bone marrow transplant in August 2011…escaped the transplant unit in September…bald as a coot!…but in time to graduate 17 December…my second Phd was a long time coming, but I made it!

By January 2012 my hair made a welcome return…and by then my thoughts were firmly on unfinished ECCT business…namely the Mekong River Run. And so with my rehab and training focused on making my Mekong vision a reality…part of this “renaissance” journey was to relaunch the ECCT website.

Drug-Resistant HIV Genes Identified

It is estimated that 38 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV and that 4.1 million more are added each year. For scientists to design treatment therapies that are effective over the long-term it is essential to learn more about how the virus mutates and develops resistance to medications.

New, groundbreaking research by University of Victoria bio-medical engineer Stephanie Willerth has significantly advanced the understanding of HIV and how to treat it.

Read full article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101210154517.htm

Helping business to tackle Aids

Business is playing an increasingly important role in the fight against HIV/Aids in South Africa.

The SA Business Coalition on HIV/Aids (Sabcoha) lobbies and partners with the government, spearheads research and pilots best practice in Aids workplace programmes, and empowers companies to respond effectively to the epidemic.

With a membership base of over 40 corporates, around 10 large companies and more than 50 small companies and service providers, Sabcoha responds to the needs of South African business in its responses to the epidemic.

Aids and the bottom line
HIV/Aids has a significant impact on business, not only causing costs to escalate and markets to contract, but also damaging the societal wellbeing essential for a healthy economy.

While many would argue that business has a moral responsibility to help tackle the worst health crisis the world has seen since the Black Plague, there is also the matter of the bottom line.

For anyone doing business in South Africa, 10-40% of the workforce is likely to be infected with HIV. But the impact and potential impact of HIV/Aids varies greatly from one company to the next. Labour and capital-intensive industries, as well as those with high labour mobility, are most affected.

Research shows that if companies invest in prevention and treatment programmes, the savings outweigh the costs. Providing care and treatment for HIV-positive employees can reduce the financial burden of HIV/Aids by as much as 40%.

Read more: http://www.southafrica.info/business/economy/development/sabcoha.htm#ixzz1mx6f9q2d

Response to children with Aids “tragically indifferent”

Millions of children remain at risk from HIV/Aids and the world’s response to their plight remains “tragically insufficient”, a United Nations report said on Tuesday.

The report by UNAids, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization was released on the first anniversary of the “Unite for Children, Unite against Aids” programme, which set targets to deal with Aids in children.

It said there are some signs that attitudes and policies are starting to change.

About 2,3-million children under 15 are infected with HIV, 15,2 million children under 18 have lost one or both parents to Aids and millions more have been made vulnerable, according to the report.

“In the year since [the programme was launched], the world’s response to protect and support Aids-affected children remains tragically insufficient. But in important and positive ways, that is beginning to change,” it said.

The agencies estimate that $30-billion are required to address the “four P’s” of their strategy: preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV; providing paediatric treatment; preventing infection among adolescents and young people; and protecting and supporting children affected by HIV/Aids.

Read more about this article

Aids Orphans: The 3rd Wave

HIV/AIDS prevention & care

The HIV/AIDS pandemic remains a global disaster. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) harbors nearly 65% of the estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world in 2005. While general awareness about HIV and its causes is almost universal in most of SSA, transmission has not abated.

According to AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation):

“Without doubt one of the greatest crises facing contemporary and future Africa is the fate of a rapidly increasing population of orphaned children, who represent the third shock wave of the AIDS pandemic. The first wave was triggered by a rising incidence of HIV infections followed by the second wave, AIDS deaths. It has been estimated that in less than a decade there will be 42 million AIDS orphans in Africa.”

2005 saw yet 4.9 million new infections in the world, 3.2 million (65%) of them in SSA, home to under 10% of the world population. This was the largest number of new infections in a single year since the beginning of the pandemic. Among marginalized communities, new infection rates are even higher.

The vulnerability of women in SSA is evidenced by the rising infection rates that have surpassed that of men at 57%. While new infections are now commonest among young people, especially those between 19 and 24 years of age, it is at least 3 times higher and in some instances up to 6 times higher among girls than boys of the same age.

While the world has witnessed a rapid scale up of access to antiretroviral treatment in the recent past, less than 1 in 10 Africans in need of treatment received it by end of 2005, although this represents a four fold increase from previous years. There is therefore hope that scaling up access to treatment in Africa is indeed possible. On the other hand, prevention efforts have not resulted in appropriate behavior necessary to reverse the epidemic.

Large numbers of communities do not have access to preventative information, technologies and tools to support behavior change. In addition, the association between HIV infection and other infectious diseases, especially malaria and TB, has exacerbated the negative impact of not only HIV/AIDS but also of these other infections.

TB control efforts have been hampered by the escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic to an extent that TB has now been declared an emergency on the African continent. The majority of the 20 countries with the highest TB rates are in SSA. The increasing occurrence of multiple drug resistant TB and HIV is likely to further worsen both HIV and TB treatment efforts.

Read more: http://www.amref.org/index.asp?PageID=50&PiaID=2