Category Archives: HIV

Researchers Closer Now to HIV Vaccine Than Ever Before

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In a new report, researchers look back on the 30-year effort to develop an HIV vaccine.

HIV Vaccine

In a global pandemic, the medical community rises up to find a cure.

With viral diseases, that cure often takes the form of a vaccine. But with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the quest for such a vaccine has been a 30-year journey.

In a new report published in Science, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) took a look back at the past three decades of research and action into an HIV vaccine.

Although the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic is often associated with the 1980s and early 1990s, AIDS and HIV are still very much a part of many lives in the United States and around the world.

A vaccine against HIV would help millions.

“Obviously, a vaccine for HIV is one of the most important goals that we have if we want to durably end the AIDS epidemic,” said report co-author Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID. “I think we’re doing a very good job of decreasing death and infections, even in the absence of a vaccine.”

About 1.2 million Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2011, the most recent year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has data for. Across the world, there were about 35 million people living with HIV in 2013.

 “A vaccine, as with all viral diseases, will really be the nail in the coffin for HIV,” Fauci said.

The medical and research community isn’t there yet, but it’s getting close, he added.

CNN News: HIV no longer considered death sentence

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Justin Goforth was just a 26-year-old nursing student when he had unprotected sex with another man and, as a result, got the diagnosis that changed his life.

“I started to feel like I had the flu — aches, pains, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, that kind of thing — and so I went to my doctor … we did a viral load test, which was rare back then … and he called me and said, you know, it came back (HIV) positive.”

It was 1992. Goforth’s doctor immediately sent him to the National Institutes of Health, where research was being done, but treatment options were, at the time, still few.

Patients were being treated with AZT, the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1987 to treat HIV/AIDS in the United States — by then known for its serious, even life-threatening side effects.

The reality of the diagnosis set in.

Justin Goforth

“I was so sick,” Goforth says. “I was sitting silently and crying because of my circumstance … and the nurse came over and was trying to console me, I believe, and said … ‘Because you were just infected, you may have, you know, six or eight years before you die.’

“I think she was trying to cheer me up,” he says. “Didn’t work very well, but that’s just a good commentary on where we were at the time”

Bill Gates: Where to put the smart money to end AIDS

That was then, but what does it mean to have HIV today, after years of research and advances in treatment?

“It means likely you can have a normal lifespan and have a similar life to someone who does not have HIV,” says Dr. Ray Martins, chief medical officer at Whitman-Walker Health in Washington, which provides health care services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“For people who had to deal with the medications and stuff from the ’80s and ’90s, it was a bit of a rough road there, so figuring out the virus and the medications that would work effectively with the least side effects, it took a while,” Martins says. “But now we’re at the point where we have three options for one pill, once-a-day regimens with very little side effects.”

In 1981, when the virus was discovered, being HIV-positive was considered a death sentence. For most patients today, it’s a chronic disease, much like diabetes or heart disease.

Goforth is a perfect example. He has been living with the disease for 21 years and today is a healthy 47-year-old.

Instead of the difficult treatment regimen he was on back then. which included some 40 pills five times a day with “horrific” side effects, he now takes five pills twice a day “with virtually no side effects,” he says.

For the last 7½ years, Goforth, who is a registered nurse, has worked at Whitman-Walker in a variety of positions, including director of nursing and in case management.

He sees potentially thousands of patients each year, and has personally delivered the same news he got two decades ago to more than 200 patients. But he tells them living with HIV today means that you can be healthy, thrive and live a normal lifespan without complications.

“You can go to your doctor two, three times a year, get some tests done and make sure everything’s on track, and then just live the rest of your life as you would,” he says. “Follow your dreams … have your career, your family, or whatever it is that you’d like to do with your life, and that is the truth of where we are.”

Today’s science, he said, supports that.

Interactive: World AIDS Day 2013

“We are at a place that we actually have the tools we need to stop the epidemic and then just get to a point where we’re just taking care of the people who have HIV throughout their life,” he says.

“But because of how horrible the first 10, 20 years of this (epidemic) was, we have collectively this culture of what it means to be infected and affected by HIV that still is this huge block, this huge barrier for people understanding that they can get into care and they can be OK and that it’s not something to be afraid of.”

About 1.1 million Americans live with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But because of improved treatments, they’re living longer and their quality of life is better.

“If a person is HIV infected today, it is important that they put themselves under the care of a physician experienced in caring for HIV-infected individuals,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. “Depending on the stage of infection, it is highly likely that it will be recommended that the person begin antiretroviral therapy (ART).”

ART is a combination of at least three antiretroviral drugs that prevents the virus from replicating. It can also help reduce virus transmission.

Unlike years ago, when effective treatments were not available, HIV patients now benefit significantly from ART, Fauci says.

“These drugs are highly effective in suppressing HIV replication and, if taken as directed, can result in the HIV-infected individual having an almost normal lifespan without experiencing serious illness related to their HIV infection.”

And so, on this 25th World AIDS Day, Goforth has mixed emotions.

It’s a day that, in the past, has been incredibly sad and traumatic for him. Now, he says, he has tremendous hope.

“I see the freight train being slowed down so that we can turn it around,” he says. “Even five, six years ago, I’m not sure that I could have said that I had the hope that that was going to happen, but I think we’re at that point we’re at a really historical moment with this.”

Each November in advance of World AIDS Day, POZ, an award winning magazine started in 1994 to provide education and information for people living with and affected by the disease, names its “POZ 100″ — HIV-positive people who are unsung heroes in the fight against AIDS, and committed to ending the epidemic.

Bacterial antivirus system repurposed to attack HIV where it’s hiding

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As part of its normal life cycle, HIV inserts a copy of itself into the genome of every cell it infects. Most of these copies go on to cause an active infection, pumping out new copies of the virus. A few of them, however, go quiet and can persist even during aggressive antiviral treatments. These infected cells act as a reservoir for the virus, reestablishing an active infection if antiviral therapies are ever stopped. Eliminating this viral reservoir has proven extremely difficult.

Now, researchers are reporting on some of the first tests of a technique that targets the copies of the virus that are lurking in cells with a quiescent infection. Using a system that bacteria utilize to disable viruses, they’ve shown that it’s possible to precisely edit out key HIV DNA sequences, essentially inactivating any copies of the virus. And if placed in cells prior to exposure to HIV, the same system effectively blocks infection.

Bacteria don’t have an immune system, but that doesn’t mean they have no defenses against viruses. When infected, the bacteria can make special RNAs that match the DNA sequences of the virus. These RNAs then guide a protein called Cas9 to the viral DNA, which the protein then cuts. The cut inactivates the virus, protecting the bacteria. The whole system (called CRISPR/Cas) is incredibly flexible; given the right RNA, it can be turned loose on pretty much any DNA sequence. Researchers have shown that it can be used to cut the DNA of living human cells, effectively editing their contents.

That gave a team of biologists an idea. If CRISPR/Cas worked on the DNA of the human genome and HIV inserts itself into said DNA, there’s no reason you couldn’t target those copies.

So the researchers designed a targeting RNA that would recognize part of the virus that’s essential for infection (called an LTR, it controls insertion into the genome and expression of viral genes). They packaged up the genes for that RNA and the Cas9 DNA-cutting protein into a single vector and then inserted the vector into cells that were infected with HIV. As expected, the system cut any copies of HIV that were present in the genome. The cell then typically repaired the DNA by deleting a few nearby bases and relinking the two ends. As a result, key parts of the virus were deleted. The researchers also tested the use of two RNAs that target neighboring sequences and showed that these led to the deletion of all the DNA in between them.

This method was highly efficient, but there were always a few cells left over that seemed to have intact viruses. The researchers don’t quite understand why, but it’s a safe bet that they’re looking into it.

As a further test, the researchers inserted their vector (carrying genes for Cas9 and the targeting RNAs) into the genome of some immune cells. They then attempted to infect those cells with HIV. The vector effectively blocked the establishment of an HIV infection, keeping the cells virus-free; the researchers call these cells “immunized.”

It’s a promising idea for a potential future therapy, but there are still some roadblocks that need to be dealt with. The first is a lack of complete HIV inactivation—as we mentioned, having any cells left in an HIV-containing reservoir places the patient at risk of having the virus reestablish itself. The second is efficiently getting the vector that contains the CRISPR/Cas system into infected cells. It’s rather easy to do in a culture dish, but it’s another thing entirely to do it efficiently in the human body. The researchers have their work cut out for them if they want to push this method toward clinical trials.

But even if they don’t, using gene editing to block HIV is already in clinical trials. A different technology that makes cuts in DNA is being used to target the gene that encodes one of the proteins that HIV uses to enter cells. We already know that people who lack this gene don’t progress to AIDS when infected with HIV, so this approach may not have to work with full efficiency in order to create a population of healthy immune cells in infected patients.

GOOD NEWS: HIV/AIDS CURE FINALLY FOUND, DOCTORS CONFIRM

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Doctors in Barcelona, Spain consider they’ve discovered the remedy to HIV – the AIDS-causing virus that impacts the lives of greater than 34 million individuals worldwide, in line with WHO.
By utilizing blood transplants from the umbilical cords of people with a genetic resistance to HIV, Spanish medical professionals consider they will deal with the virus, having confirmed the process profitable with one affected person.

A 37-year-old man from Barcelona, who had been contaminated with the HIV virus in 2009, was cured of the situation after receiving a transplant of blood.

While sadly the person later died from most cancers simply three years later, having developed lymphoma, the Spanish medical workforce continues to be massively inspired by what it considers to be a breakthrough within the struggle towards HIV and associated circumstances, in accordance with the Spanish information supply El Mundo.

Doctors in Barcelona initially tried the method utilizing the precedent of Timothy Brown, an HIV affected person who developed leukemia earlier than receiving experimental remedy in Berlin, the Spanish information website The Local reported.

Scientists ‘delete’ HIV virus from human DNA for the first time

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  • Scientists used a DNA-snipping enzyme called Cas9 to cut out the virus
  • The cell’s gene repair machinery then takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in a virus-free cell 
  • Process could also be a cure for other latent infections, researchers say
  • ‘It’s an exciting discovery, but not ready to go into the clinic,’ said Dr Khalili

Once HIV conquers a human cell, it will stay there forever.

It inserts its deadly genome permanently into its victims’ DNA, forcing them to require medical treatment for the rest of their life.

But now, for the first time, researchers in Philadelphia have found a way to completely delete HIV from human cells by ‘snipping’ them out.

For the first time, researchers in Philadelphia have found a way to completely delete the HIV virus (pictured) from human cells by ¿snipping¿ them out. The process could also provide a cure for other latent infections

For the first time, researchers in Philadelphia have found a way to completely delete the HIV virus (pictured) from human cells by ‘snipping’ them out. The process could also provide a cure for other latent infections

The team of Temple University School of Medicine said the breakthrough marks the first successful attempt to eliminate latent HIV-1 virus from human cells – and could be a cure for other latent infections.

‘This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,’ said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple.

‘It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic. It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction,’ he added,

In a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Khalili and colleagues detail how they created molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA.

When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and remove the HIV-1 DNA.

From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells.

‘Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease,’ explained Dr Khalili.

These molecular tools also hold promise as a therapeutic vaccine; cells armed with the nuclease-RNA combination proved impervious to HIV infection.

Worldwide, more than 33 million people have HIV, including more than 1 million in the United States.

Every year, another 50,000 Americans contract the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the UK, around 100,000 people were living with HIV in the UK in 2013. That’s around one person in 665.

Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (Haart) has controlled HIV-1 for infected people in the developed world over the last 15 years, the virus can rage again with any interruption in treatment.

Worldwide, more than 33 million people have HIV, including more than 1 million in the United States. ¿This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,' said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple

Worldwide, more than 33 million people have HIV, including more than 1 million in the United States. ‘This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,’ said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple

‘The low level replication of HIV-1 makes patients more likely to suffer from diseases usually associated with ageing,’ Dr Khalili said.

These include cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle – bone disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive disorders.

‘These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus,’ Dr Khalili added.

Researchers based the two-part HIV-1 editor on a system that evolved as a bacterial defence mechanism to protect against infection.

Dr Khalili’s lab engineered a 20-nucleotide strand of gRNA to target the HIV-1 DNA and paired it with a DNA-sniping enzyme called Cas9 and used to edit the human genome.

‘We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies,’ Dr Khalili said.

‘We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it.’

Some Ways to Avoid HIV and AIDS

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How to Avoid HIV and AIDS

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is an infectious agent that has killed over 25 million people since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 1980s. Currently, over 33.4 million people in the world are infected with HIV or have AIDS, meaning they are in the final stage of the HIV disease. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. That means prevention is the most important step in protecting your health. Read on to educate yourself about how HIV is transmitted and how you can avoid becoming infected.

1
Understand how HIV works. HIV invades and destroys the T-cells or CD4 cells in the blood responsible for fighting off other viruses and bacteria, leaving the victim vulnerable to other infections and diseases.[1] The HIV virus needs these T-cells in order to reproduce itself, and so cannot survive in areas without blood cells, such as skin or hair.

  • Someone who has been infected with HIV is referred to as “HIV positive” or “HIV+”. Someone with “AIDS” has lost almost all of their CD4 cells, or their immune system has been damaged enough that they are experiencing “opportunistic infections” or infection-related cancers.[2]

  1. 2
    Realize that most social interactions cannot spread HIV. Speaking with or shaking hands with HIV+ people is completely harmless, so you do not need to worry whether anyone you meet has HIV. The virus cannot survive in air, water, or most other substances outside of the human body, so sharing food, swimming in the same pool, or sharing a bathroom with an HIV+ person will not transmit an infection.
  2. 3
    Know how infection is transmitted. HIV is transmitted by certain bodily fluids, but not all of them. They are: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, breast milk and vaginal fluid.[3] Any exposure to these fluids could result in acquiring HIV. The following sections give you specific advice on how to avoid contact with these fluids in all situations, including sex.

    • Note that saliva or phlegm do not contain the virus. This means that exposure is not possible through kissing, sneezing, or coughing, unless visible amounts of blood are mixed with the other bodily fluids. Even then, transmission through brief contact is highly unlikely.[4]

    Reducing the Risk of Sexual Transmission

    1. 1
      Reduce your sexual risk factors. You are less likely to become exposed to HIV if you do not have sex, reduce the number of your sexual partners, require sexual partners to get tested for HIV, and/or limit your sex to uninfected sexual partners who do not have sex outside your relationship. Choosing one or more of these sexual practices is an excellent way to reduce the chance of HIV transmission, especially when combined with condom use as described below.

      • Have long-term sexual partners get tested for HIV before you have sex without a condom. A significant percentage of people with HIV do not know they have the virus.[5]
    2. 4
      Prevent exchange of bodily fluids during sex. HIV can be transmitted through oral, vaginal, or anal sex if one or more people involved are HIV+. However, there are ways to reduce, but not eliminate, the chance of its transmission. Always use latex condoms or latex female condoms when having sex with a new sexual partner, any sexual partner who has not been recently tested for HIV, or during every sexual encounter if you have multiple sexual partners. When performing oral sex on a vagina or anus, use dental dams or non-lubricated, cut-open condoms for oral sex to prevent direct contact with the mouth.

      • Warning: lambskin condoms do not prevent infection, as they contain microscopic holes that the virus can travel through. Polyurethane condoms may not prevent infection as effectively as latex condoms.[6]

      Avoiding Transmission through Syringes

      1. 1
        Stop using injected drugs if possible. You can become infected with HIV by using a needle that has been previously used by someone with HIV. This can occur even if the needle appears clean. Because many injected drugs are addictive, it can be difficult to turn down an opportunity to inject, even if you know the needle is unsafe. Entering a substance abuse recovery program is highly recommended in this scenario.
      1. Do not re-use or share needles when injecting drugs or receiving piercings or tattoos. Use new, sterile syringes each time, or confirm with the tattoo artist that they are not re-using a needle. Make sure to receive your needles from a reputable source. Never reuse or share anything used to prepare or take drugs, including water (as this could be contaminated with HIV-infected blood). After using, dispose of needles safely by throwing them away inside a closed bottle, preferably one with no recycling refund or collectible value.[14]

        • Some regions have free needle exchange programs where people can turn in used needles and receive clean ones in return. Search online for programs in your area.
      2. 3
        Disinfect needles between use if you have no access to clean needles. If stopping or finding a new needle are not possible, clean and disinfect a used needle before injecting. This does not make the needle safe; it only partially reduces the risk.First, fill the syringe with clean water, shake it to dislodge particles of blood, then empty. Repeat this process several times, until no more blood is visible. Next, fill the syringe with a disinfectant such as household bleach, and let sit for at least 30 seconds. Empty and rinse gain with more clean water in order to remove the disinfectant.[15]

How Much Seconds Or Minutes Exactly The HIV VIRUS Remains Alive Outside The Human Body ?

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Thank you for using the AIDS Vancouver Online Helpline as your source of HIV/AIDS related information.


I will attempt to answer your questions in order.
1. HIV needs to be passed inside of the body, where there is no oxygen. When a masseuse gives a handjob with a water based lubricant, not only will the virus (if present) be diluted, it will also begin to die. All of these factors mean that there is close to a zero percent chance of anyone receiving HIV from a handjob.


2. While there is no exact timeframe for how long HIV survives outside of the body, the reason we can say that HIV does not survive very long is because of the research that has been done on the subject. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) writes:
“Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well outside the body, making the possibility of environmental transmission remote. HIV is found in varying concentrations or amounts in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, saliva, and tears. To obtain data on the survival of HIV, laboratory studies have required the use of artificially high concentrations of laboratory-grown virus. Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours. Since the HIV concentrations used in laboratory studies are much higher than those actually found in blood or other specimens, drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the theoretical risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed–essentially zero. Incorrect interpretations of conclusions drawn from laboratory studies have in some instances caused unnecessary alarm.


Results from laboratory studies should not be used to assess specific personal risk of infection because (1) the amount of virus studied is not found in human specimens or elsewhere in nature, and (2) no one has been identified as infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface. Additionally, HIV is unable to reproduce outside its living host (unlike many bacteria or fungi, which may do so under suitable conditions), except under laboratory conditions; therefore, it does not spread or maintain infectiousness outside its host.”
To summarize, HIV needs really specific conditions to survive outside the body. Typically air tight and climate controlled. As far as inanimate objects, needles are found to be one place the virus can survive a bit longer. This is due to the airtight space between the needle tip and the plunger also known as the “sweet spot”.

The Beginning of the End? Why the World Is Off-Track on AIDS But 2013 Gives Us Hope

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I still remember how I felt on World AIDS Day one year ago: filled with hope. I spent the morning listening to celebrities, CEOs, faith leaders, members of Congress and three U.S. presidents do something rare in DC: agree with one another. What was even more inspiring was that the bold vision they all touted in their remarks — “the beginning of the end of AIDS” — for the first time no longer felt impossible, coming off a year filled with new scientific data suggesting that we had the tools to finally begin breaking the back of the pandemic.

I also remember how I felt after the International AIDS Conference just seven months later: deflated. The conference was full of dignitaries and speeches, but at the end of the week, I felt a sense of rhetoric-fatigue. There was so much talk of turning the tide on AIDS, and yet it still felt challenging to point to what world leaders were doing differently, and how they were moving the ball forward.

So this year, to commemorate World AIDS Day, ONE took a hard look at how much progress the world has actually made on AIDS and analyzed which countries had been leaders and laggards in the fight. Our new report, “The Beginning of the End? Tracking Global Commitments on AIDS,” shows that although significant progress has been made, if we maintain the status quo on treatment and prevention, we won’t see the beginning of the end of AIDS until 2022. Not exactly a message of hope.

Some of the largest hurdles to achieving accelerated progress on this vision are a lack of resources and coordination. Set against a $6-$8 billion annual AIDS financing gap, the report finds huge variance among donors’ contributions. Countries such as the United States have led the way in funding, political rhetoric and strategy development; others, including many in Europe, are contributing significant resources, but could contribute more financially and politically. Many donors still do not have strong global AIDS strategies to focus their investments, and this has led to gaps in the global response, with no clear sense of responsibility for achieving the broader UN political targets on AIDS agreed upon in 2011.

2012-11-27-one1.jpg

A Global Fund and EGPAF supported clinic in rural Lesotho that provides services for thousands of people who live in the mountains behind it.

Encouragingly, low- and middle-income countries are for the first time contributing more than half of the global resources for AIDS, but there, too, is still much room for growth. In particular, as of 2010, only four African countries have met their Abuja commitment of spending 15 percent of their national budgets on health, and 13 countries would need to double, triple, or quadruple their spending to achieve the commitment by 2015.

Yet I still have cause for hope on World AIDS Day 2012, because2013 will provide a number of key moments at which stakeholders can signal how serious they are about achieving the beginning of the end of AIDS. The Global Fund’s fourth replenishment meeting in 2013 offers donors, both traditional and new, the opportunity to reinvest in the Global Fund’s critical work. Strong support will signal confidence in the Global Fund’s new funding model, designed to more consistently target resources towards countries with the highest burden and the greatest need. With sufficient new resources, the Global Fund will be well positioned to deliver significant results toward the beginning of the end of AIDS.

2012-11-27-one2kid.jpg

Erin with Motselisi, a five-year-old girl alive on ARVs supported by the Global Fund.

In 2013, global leaders will also discuss a new post-2015 global development framework. As leaders debate this framework, they must not lose sight of the current set of Millennium Development Goals (including MDG 6 focused on AIDS and other infectious diseases), and should adopt more of a “war room” mentality in getting the job they’ve already committed to getting done by 2015.

Without scaled-up financing, more targeted programming and expanded political will, the beginning of the end of AIDS will remain a distant ambition. But with concerted action, the world can chart a course towards ending this pandemic. To help make this transformation real, we need your help in creating a sense of urgency and asking leaders from around the world to step up. Please sign ONE’s AIDS petition, post a surprising fact you learned from this report on Twitter or Facebook, or download thee-reader version for your favorite global health-loving family member this holiday season.

New York: Dental Clinic Specializes in HIV/AIDS Patients, Cuts Out Fear of Seeing Dentist

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Last fall, the nonprofit group Housing Works opened a full-service health clinic in Brooklyn exclusively for women with HIV/AIDS. A dental clinic housed in the facility, located at 57 Willoughby St., also accepts male patients.

“Many of the people who come here have neglected their teeth because they have so many other health concerns,” said Dr. Hallie Williams, chief of the dental clinic. “They feel ashamed because they know their teeth are not in good shape. We work with them to put those fears at bay.”

The dental clinic takes precautions to ensure the patients’ immune systems are strong enough to tolerate the required treatments, said Williams. Extra care is taken to reduce the risk of transmission. “We use gloves, drapes, disposable instruments, and we have an extensive sterilization system,” she said.

Priscilla Jackson of Flatbush said she is grateful for the clinic, especially after having several bad experiences with dentists unfamiliar with treating HIV patients. “I went to one place and when the dentist found out I was HIV-positive, he started yelling down the hallway to a colleague, ‘I can’t touch her!’ He was afraid, even though he had on gloves and he had on a mask. He was asking questions like, ‘How’d you get it?,” she noted.

Another dentist pulled Jackson’s teeth but prescribed no antibiotics to prevent infection, she said. “When I came to Housing Works, I learned that’s what he should have done,” said Jackson.

Baby Born With HIV In Remission, Tests Suggest

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Doctors now have convincing evidence that they put HIV into remission, hopefully for good, in a Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus — a medical first that is prompting a new look at how hard and fast such cases should be treated.

The case was reported earlier this year but some doctors were skeptical that the baby was really infected rather than testing positive because of exposure to virus in the mom’s blood.

The new report, published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, makes clear that the girl, now 3, was infected in the womb. She was treated unusually aggressively and shows no active infection despite stopping AIDS medicines 18 months ago.

Doctors won’t call it a cure because they don’t know what proof or how much time is needed to declare someone free of HIV infection, long feared to be permanent.

“We want to be very cautious here. We’re calling it remission because we’d like to observe the child for a longer time and be absolutely sure there’s no rebound,” said Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, a University of Massachusetts AIDS expert involved in the baby’s care.

The government’s top AIDS scientist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed.

“At minimum, the baby is in a clear remission. It is possible that the baby has actually been cured. We don’t have a definition for cure as we do for certain cancers, where after five years or so you can be relatively certain the person is not going to go and relapse,” he said. A scientist at his institute did sophisticated tests that showed no active virus in the child.

A government-sponsored international study starting in January aims to test early treatment in babies born with HIV to see if the results in this case can be reproduced.

Most HIV-infected moms in the U.S. get AIDS medicines during pregnancy, which greatly cuts the chances they will pass the virus to their babies. But the Mississippi mom got no prenatal care and her HIV was discovered during labor. Doctors considered the baby to be at such high risk that they started the child on three powerful medicines 30 hours after birth, rather than waiting for a test to confirm infection as is usually done.

Within a month, the baby’s virus fell to undetectable levels. She remained on treatment until she was 18 months old when doctors lost contact with her. Ten months later when she returned, they could find no sign of infection even though the mom had stopped giving the child AIDS medicines.

Only one other person is thought to have been cured of HIV infection — a San Francisco man who had a bone marrow transplant in 2007 from a donor with natural resistance to HIV, and showed no sign of infection five years later.

In the Mississippi baby, “there’s no immune mechanism we can identify that would keep the virus in check” like that bone marrow donor, said another study author, Dr. Deborah Persaud of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, who helped investigate the case because she has researched treatment in children.

Dr. Peter Havens, pediatric HIV chief at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and a government adviser on HIV treatment guidelines, said the child may have an undiscovered genetic trait that helped her manage the virus.

“I’m just not convinced that her dramatic response would be replicable in a large population,” he said. It’s too soon to recommend treating other high-risk babies so aggressively without more study, he said.

In the upcoming study, doctors plan to give AIDS medicines for at least two years and watch for signs of remission before suspending treatment and seeing whether a remission results.

The Mississippi case “did open people’s eyes further” about a possible cure, Luzuriaga said. “We might be able to intervene early and spare children a lifetime of therapy. That is the potential impact of this case.”