Tag Archives: hiv awareness

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.’

Pepsi/Frooti Contaminated with HIV

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I am hearing that someone with HIV at a pepsi plant has injected their blood into the product during plant production. Is this true? Why would they still be selling the product I thought. But some people are saying the news said to not drink it right now.

URGENT NEWS. There’s news from the police. Its an urgent message for all. For next few days don’t drink any product from pepsi company’s like pepsi, tropicana juice, slice, 7up etc. A worker from the company has added his blood contaminated with AIDS. Watch NDTV. please forward this to everyone on your list

This warning about HIV-contaminated Pepsi products began spreading on the Internet and via cell phone text message in July 2011 (and experienced a resurgence in September 2012), and it has also been echoed in recurrent rumors about Mango Frooti, a popular beverage in India. Such rumors are standard food contamination urban legends akin to the leper in the Chesterfield factory rumor. No news accounts, government agencies, or other reliable sources have reported Pepsi or Frooti products being contaminated with HIV-infected blood.

Drawing your attention to the baseless rumour floating around that Frooti contains HIV blood, we assure you that this is a rumour and holds no credibility. Sadly, a lot of renowned beverage brands have been faced with the same unjustified rumor.

The Delhi police and the news channel NDTV have confirmed to Parie Agro that this is not something that they have circulated and they are investigating the matter, since their credentials have been used in the rumour that has been spreading.

It would be our privilege to personally organise a visit for you to any of our 50 manufacturing facilities, a testament to quality and hygiene. Here, based on our manufacturing process, you’ll see how something like ‘putting blood in a product’ is absolutely impossible.
As for whether people can acquire HIV via contaminated food or beverages, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) emphatically says they cannot:
No incident of food being contaminated with HIV-infected blood or semen has been reported to CDC. Furthermore, CDC has received no reports of HIV infection resulting from eating food, including condiments.

HIV does not live long outside the body. Even if small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen was consumed, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus. Therefore, there is no risk of contracting HIV from eating food.
HIV does not long survive outside its host medium of human bodily fluids: blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, saliva, tears. (Which is not to say HIV can be transmitted by every one of those: according to the CDC, “Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.”) The CDC says except under laboratory conditions, HIV is unable to reproduce

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outside its living host; it does not spread or maintain infectiousness outside its host. Therefore, were HIV-tainted blood to be mixed into foodstuffs or beverages, the virus would neither survive nor while it was still viable multiply and so replenish itself.

Although such cases are rare, the CDC confirms that people have acquired HIV through oral contact with, or swallowing of, HIV-laden bodily fluids. However, no known infections involving oral transmission of HIV have so far come from contact with, or ingestion of, a food product or beverage; all such infections involved sexual contact.

Other ingestibles have previously been fingered as vehicles for the transmission of HIV-infected blood to the unsuspecting public, and these stories too were baseless: The 2004 scare about restaurant ketchup dispensers and the 2005-2006 scare about pineapples.

How Do You Get HIV or AIDS?

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How is HIV spread?

HIV is spread through four body fluids:

  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • blood
  • breast milk

HIV is NOT spread through:

  • tears
  • sweat
  • feces
  • urine
  • How is HIV spread through blood?

    You can become infected if you have contact with the blood of someone who is infected with HIV. Blood-borne infection with HIV can occur through:

    • sharing needles when shooting drugs
    • tattoos or body piercings with unsterilized needles
    • accidental needle sticks
    • blood transfusions
    • splashing blood in your eyes

    HIV is NOT spread by blood passed through insect bites.

    Can mothers give HIV to their babies?

    Infection can occur from HIV positive pregnant women to their babies in the womb and during birth. Taking anti-HIV drugs during pregnancy and childbirth can dramatically lower the risk.

    After birth, transmission can occur through breast milk of infected women. The highest risk may be in the early months after birth. New mothers should try to bottle-feed their babies rather than breast-feed.

    If you are an HIV-positive woman and intend to become pregnant, or you find out that you are HIV positive during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce the chances that your baby will become infected, too.

8 Facts That Will Make You Rethink HIV On World AIDS Day

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Since 1988, December 1 has been declared World AIDS Day. Not only is it a day to remember those who were lost to AIDS, but to show support to those living with HIV/AIDS all over the world, as well as educate people on the facts about the virus. According to The Foundation for AIDS Research, every day roughly 5,600 people contract the virus here in the U.S., and in 2014 alone, 1.2 million people died from AIDS. Since the start of the pandemic in the early ‘80s, almost 39 million people have died due to AIDS-related illness. These numbers are terrifying. But although the numbers do feel like a knife to the heart, it doesn’t mean we can’t hope for better in the future.

This year’s World AIDS Day campaign is ‘Think Positive: Rethink HIV,’ in the hopes that we can finally put to bed all the ignorance and stereotypes that have far too long created a stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and those living with the virus. Through a variety of efforts from bake sales meant to raise awareness to tweeting facts and figures online (#RETHINKHIV), there is something for everyone to do on World AIDS Day to help kick the old misguided ideas about HIV/AIDS to the curb.

So instead of letting the stigma of HIV/AIDS warp your understanding of the virus, it’s time for you, for all of us, to rethink it. Here are eight facts about HIV/AIDS that will make you stop and re-examine your thoughts on the virus.

1. Ignorance Spreads HIV More Than Anything Else

If you feel so inclined, you can make your way to a kissing booth in Soho (London) on World AIDS Day from 1-3 p.m. There, you can “expect hunks, drag queens, a little bit of craziness and lots of fun.”

The reason for the kissing booth? Its message is a clear one: “Kissing Doesn’t Spread HIV. Ignorance Does.” Since that’s the case, you need to get your kiss on to make a statement.

2. Most People Know That Kissing Doesn’t Spread HIV (But Most Isn’t Enough)

According to the findings by the National AIDS Trust, 84 percent of people are well aware of the fact that kissing absolutely, positively does NOT spread HIV. However, that other 16 percent really needs to step into the 21st century, because they could be missing out on a great makeout session with someone awesome.

3. HIV Doesn’t Mean Your Sex Life Is Over

Just as the case with all STIs, an HIV diagnosis doesn’t mean your sex life is over like it did back in the day when scientists were still unclear of how it was transmitted. Today, if you’re on effective treatment for HIV, you are non-infectious ― a fact that the National AIDS Trust suggests you tweet on World AIDS Day. In fact, 85 percent of those living in the UK with HIV are not infectious.

But while this may be the case, it doesn’t mean you should always be having unprotected sex ― there are still other STIs out there.

4. The Majority Of Babies Born To HIV Positive Women Are HIV-Free

It may seem that a baby born to an HIV positive woman is basically a shoe-in for the virus, treatments are making that less and less of a possibility. Although there is still a chance that the virus can be passed from mother to child, 99.5 percent of children born to HIV positive moms are born free of it.

5. HIV Is No Longer A Death Sentence

Although HIV was once a guarantee that your life would be cut drastically short due to an AIDS-related illness, science has put an end to all that. Now those living with HIV can expect to live not just normal and healthy lives, but a normal life expectancy, too.

6. Having HIV Doesn’t Mean AIDS Is A Certainty

Not only are people living long healthy lives with HIV, but the appropriate treatment can keep one’s HIV status in tact without ever reaching the point of AIDS. And, if that weren’t something that forces you to rethink your ideas of the virus, even those who do end up with AIDS can actually recover from it and go back to HIV status. In the UK, for example, only 0.3 percent of HIV positive people end up developing AIDS.

7. It Isn’t Illegal To Keep Your HIV Status To Yourself

Because HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, in the UK you’re actually protected by law if you choose to keep your positive status to yourself, whether it be in the job place or in a relationship. However, if you are positive, when it comes to the latter situation, you do owe it to your partner to at least practice safe sex, especially if you’re not taking treatment for the virus that makes you non-infectious.

Although that may be the case in the UK, here in the States things are a little different. While you do not have to share your status at your place of work, when it comes to sexual partners you can be charged with a felony if you knowingly transmit HIV to someone. In other words, know your rights and practice safe sex, no matter your status.

8. The Fastest Growing Group Of Those Living With HIV Isn’t What You Think

If you’re still living in the 1980s where HIV/AIDS was something that “only” happened to young gay men, then it’s time for a wake-up call. According to research, at least in the UK, the fast growing group of people living with HIV are 50 years of age and older. There’s also the fact that women make up 51 percent of all HIV cases worldwide and is the “leading cause of death among women of reproductive age,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Although here in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control has found that the group most affected is gay and bisexual men, with African American men being affected even more so, the point is that the stigma that HIV/AIDS only affects men who have sex with other men is way off.

Another Study Blames Dating Apps For Rise In HIV Rates

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UNICEF has just released a study called “Adolescents Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response,” which suggests that dating apps are partially to blame for rising rates of HIV prevalence among young people in Asia and the Pacific. After a decade of declining HIV prevalence, young sexually active people have grown less vigilant about prevention, causing an uptick in transmission rates. The study focused especially on the epidemic among young men who have sex with men, young sex workers, young people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.

Says UNICEF study of men who have sex with men (MSM):

Bangkok’s intensifying HIV epidemic among young MSM is largely a result of extensive sexual risk-taking, a higher number of partners, overall increased biological vulnerability through unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, low uptake of HIV testing, and an earlier age of first sex — frequently in the low to mid-teens. All of these phenomena are common to other cities in and outside of Thailand. The explosion of smart phone gay dating apps has expanded the options for casual spontaneous sex as never before — mobile app users in the same vicinity (if not the same street) can locate each other and arrange an immediate sexual encounter with a few screen touches.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to blame dating apps for the rise in STD rates. But the truth is, dating apps are just as important to LGBTQ+ health as good sex education. Queer folks don’t exclusively use dating apps to date, hook up, etc. Just as common is using them simply to connect with other queers and find community. But sex and dating is more difficult, too, when you’re living on the margins of sexual and gender identity, and dating apps are a huge step forward in helping queer people find love, companionship, validation, and acceptance. To vilify these apps for a rise in HIV prevalence is an extremely narrow view of their effects on the queer community.

A more complete picture of the reason behind the rise in HIV prevalence would include shoddier sex ed, more apathy toward preventative measures since the disease is much better controlled than 30 years ago, and the financial barrier against preventative measures experienced disproportionately by economically disenfranchised queer folks — a problem here in the United States as much as it is in developing countries.

Says UNICEF study of men who have sex with men (MSM):

Bangkok’s intensifying HIV epidemic among young MSM is largely a result of extensive sexual risk-taking, a higher number of partners, overall increased biological vulnerability through unprotected anal sex with an HIV positive partner, low uptake of HIV testing, and an earlier age of first sex — frequently in the low to mid-teens. All of these phenomena are common to other cities in and outside of Thailand. The explosion of smart phone gay dating apps has expanded the options for casual spontaneous sex as never before — mobile app users in the same vicinity (if not the same street) can locate each other and arrange an immediate sexual encounter with a few screen touches.

This isn’t the first time someone has tried to blame dating apps for the rise in STD rates. But the truth is, dating apps are just as important to LGBTQ+ health as good sex education. Queer folks don’t exclusively use dating apps to date, hook up, etc. Just as common is using them simply to connect with other queers and find community. But sex and dating is more difficult, too, when you’re living on the margins of sexual and gender identity, and dating apps are a huge step forward in helping queer people find love, companionship, validation, and acceptance. To vilify these apps for a rise in HIV prevalence is an extremely narrow view of their effects on the queer community.

A more complete picture of the reason behind the rise in HIV prevalence would include shoddier sex ed, more apathy toward preventative measures since the disease is much better controlled than 30 years ago, and the financial barrier against preventative measures experienced disproportionately by economically disenfranchised queer folks — a problem here in the United States as much as it is in developing countries.