Donald Trump, June 16, 2020: “They’ve come up with the AIDS vaccine.” Read the rest
Donald Trump, June 16, 2020: “They’ve come up with the AIDS vaccine.” Read the rest
The White House is now insisting that all scientific and government-health related communication about the cdc be routed through the Trump administration before going public. And that person in charge of this communication funnel? Vice President Mike Pence, who as a governor previously took his sweet-ass time doing anything to address a major HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana.
From The New York Times:
The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to coordinate all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.
Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television. And they say they are not focused on specific news releases rather with a streamlined effort around television appearances.
The instinct to try and control epidemic news isn't necessarily bad if it's in good faith. People can panic and make bad decisions when they're scared, which can also make it easier for predatory conmen to exploit that fear for profit. Scared and panicked people could potentially overwhelm medical services out of paranoia, preventing people who are actually infected with the condition from getting the help they need. Hell, I can even understand why my own doctor lied to me about swine flu. Read the rest
In January 2018, Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd -- already an $93 million investor in Grindr -- bought out the company for a further $152m. Despite assurances to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that the company would not access Americans' sensitive data via its offices in China, the acquisition led to a rapid drawdown of its US engineering staff through attrition and layoffs, and an increased emphasis on development and data-processing in Kunlun's Beijing office. Read the rest
Loneliness. Fear of catching HIV. Kink. No matter the reason for why someone might want to hump a sex doll, the Zambian government is against it. In fact, Zambia's politicians are so horny to put a stop to the import and use of such sex toys that it's become a top shelf political issue.
Zambia's government has always taken a hard line against anything that rubs up against their conservative christian sensibilities. Homosexuality, for example, is punishable with up to 14 years in prison. Law enforcement in the African nation is quick to clamp down on anyone who might dare to step over the line of its ethical norms. As such, you won't find any shops selling sex toys, at least not out in the open. Most of the hardware designed to turn reproductive bits into an amusement park have to be bought online before being discreetly imported into the country.
The logic for keeping adult toys and plastic pleasure partners out of the nation comes from the Bible, according to Godfridah Sumaili. She's Zambia's head of its recently created, totally-not-something-out-of-an-Orwell-novel Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs:
Read the rest
"Being a Christian nation, obviously we are anchored in Christian principles and one of the values is morality and ethics... The use of sex dolls is definitely in contradiction to our natural heritage and our principles. The law actually forbids anybody to trade (in) and to use such objects -- and so this is why we are saying for Zambians that this is a very unnatural thing."
A recent study has found that the gay dating app Grindr is a pretty effective way to get black and Hispanic men who like to have sex with men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits. The home test doesn't require blood, but rather uses a swab of the gums to generate reliable results in 20 minutes. Of the 56 Los Angeles area men who participated in the study and received kits, two men learned from the kits that they were infected. Read the rest
Tinder is not happy about an LA billboard campaign urging users of popular dating and hookup apps to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, for free.
In a provocative LA area billboard campaign, The AIDS Healthcare Foundation takes aim at apps like Tinder and Grindr, and implies that people who use those services to connect with sexual partners are at a higher risk for diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.
A KCAL9 LA TV reporter reported that one of the billboards was put up just a few blocks from Tinder’s Beverly Boulevard headquarters.
Tinder sent a cease and desist letter to the AHF, demanding the billboards be taken down and arguing that they "falsely" associate the app "with the contraction of venereal diseases."
In the lawyergram, Tinder attorney Jonathan D. Reichman says the AHF billboard's "accusations are made to irreparably harm Tinder's reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization."
Reichman says the campaign's "statements" are not based in science, and would not hold up to "critical analysis."
Tinder "strongly supports such testing," he adds, accusing AHF of false advertising, disparagement, libel and interference with Tinder's business. And them's lawsuitin' words.
The AHF sent out a press release today that links to various studies and an article in Vanity Fair to bolster their dubious claim of “rising STD rates found among users of popular dating or “hookup” mobile phone apps.”
In their announcement, the AHF also detailed the responses by Tinder and Grinder:
Read the rest
Within two hours of the billboard posting in Los Angeles (the only market where the boards are currently posted), Grindr, another of the apps highlighted in the campaign, cut off AHF’s paid advertising for its free STD testing services on the site.
There are side-effects to being an HIV controller — a person whose body naturally suppresses the virus without medication. They have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and more ... all linked to an over-active immune system. Now, researchers think they may have a solution that can keep those patients more healthy. Read the rest
Last summer, researchers in Boston announced that they had two patients, men who had battled HIV for years but who now appeared to be virus free. The men had received a treatment similar to that of Timothy Ray Brown, the "Berlin Patient". Like Brown, the men had cancer and had received radiation and chemotherapy treatments followed by bone marrow transplants. But there were some key differences. Brown's radiation and chemo regimes were much harsher, for one thing. For another, his new bone marrow came from a donor with the CCR5-delta32 mutation, which seems to provide natural resistance to HIV infection. The Boston men got their new bone marrow from donors who did not have that mutation.
Nevertheless, both men had seen their viral loads fall to undetectable levels. They hit the news in July after being off of antiretroviral drugs for seven and 15 weeks, respectively, with no return of the virus. Unfortunately, the virus re-emerged in one of the two men the very next month. It re-emerged in the other man in November. Read the rest
Stephen Crohn lost a boyfriend and many friends to AIDS before realizing that there must be something different about him that kept him from contracting HIV. He eventually became one of the key patients that helped scientists discover the delta32 mutation — a very rare genetic anomaly that makes a person immune (as far as we know) to HIV. Crohn died on August 23rd. His family has said the death was a suicide. Read the rest
At The New York Times, John Leland has a moving portrait of people who accepted their own inevitable deaths two decades ago ... and then those deaths didn't happen. Kept alive by HIV-fighting medications, they've watched the disease go from death sentence to little-discussed chronic illness — all while dealing with the not-inconsiderable side effects of both the virus, itself, and the medications used to treat it. Read the rest
Timothy Ray Brown (aka, The Berlin Patient) is the first person to go from being HIV+ to HIV-. Usually, he's described as the first person to be cured of AIDS. Scientists are a bit more circumspect about the situation. Brown got a bone marrow transplant using marrow donated by a person whose body has natural resistance to HIV. That was in 2005. Now off of anti-retroviral drugs, Brown's HIV has (so far) not returned. Two other men have been through the same treatment with promising results, although they are still taking anti-retroviral drugs, so it's impossible to say yet whether they are also actually HIV-.
Even if this is a cure, it is not the world's most widely applicable cure. Yet. But it is very interesting and, obviously, an amazing story.
I've never heard Timothy Ray Brown speak before, so I wanted to post this interview video from Democracy Now. It probably won't add much to the story that you didn't already know, but it's powerful to see the guy, himself, talking about it.
Via Samal Coff
PREVIOUSLYWhy one mutation can protect people from HIV AIDS research done by 17-year-olds: Day 2 at AAAS 2012 Why we can't say HIV is cured If AIDS has been cured, why is the victory party so small?
We've talked here before about the importance of the protein CCR5 in HIV/AIDS treatment research. CCR5 is a protein on the surface of immune cells. Some people have a genetic mutation, called Delta-32, which alters how that protein works, how often it appears, or changes its structure. People with the mutation have immunity to some strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
CCR5 is the key to the Berlin Patient—Timothy Ray Brown—who, until recently, was the only person to ever be cured of AIDS. Brown received bone marrow transplants from people who had the Delta-32 mutation. His body has been HIV-free for five years. And, last week, researchers announced that two other people successfully received the same treatment.
But here's the thing, until today, I didn't totally understand how the connection between CCR5, Delta-32, and HIV worked. There's a story (and some great digital illustrations) on NPR's Shots blog that makes the situation much more clear. HIV, apparently, have little spikes all over its surface. These spikes are how the virus injects itself into cells.
When it bumps into a T cell, a finger-like projection on the cell's surface, called CCR5, pushes down on the spike. This interaction pops open the HIV and releases the infectious genes into the cell. A gene therapy could protect T cells by inactivating the CCR5 gene.
Great "A-ha!" moment for me. Read the rest of the story and look at the illustrations. It'll make some thing make a lot more sense.
Tony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance says:
Read the rest
Millions of people have died of AIDS because of bad drug policy – and millions more lives hang in the balance.
The International AIDS Conference will be held in the U. S. for the first time in 22 years this July 22-27, in Washington DC. Activists, public health professionals, and distinguished world leaders are mobilizing in Washington with a clear message: the criminalization of people who use drugs – and especially backward government policies that restrict syringe access – are driving the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Throughout the world, research has consistently shown that drug criminalization forces people who use drugs away from public health services and into hidden environments where HIV risks become significantly elevated. Mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders also plays a major role in spreading the pandemic, as inhumane conditions and lack of HIV prevention or treatment measures in prison lead to HIV outbreaks and AIDS cases behind bars – and among families and communities once those imprisoned are released.
Yet in countries where addiction is treated as a health issue, the fight against HIV/AIDS is being won. New HIV infections in countries such as Australia, Germany and Switzerland have been virtually eliminated among people who use drugs, just as mother-to-child HIV transmission has been eliminated in countries that make medicines for pregnant women accessible.
In the United States, however, the federal government has resisted evidence-based HIV prevention strategies – costing us hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
It's that time again. Maggie is back at the largest science convention in the Western Hemisphere for four days of wall-to-wall awesomeness. Each day, she'll tell you about some of the cool things she learned watching scientists from all over the world talk about their work. Check the bottom of each post to find links to earlier posts in this series!
Fifteen years ago, Dr. Harry Kestler got a call from a colleague in Florida who had inadvertently stumbled across a very unique family. An African-American woman had brought her sick child into the hospital only to discover that the child was HIV-positive and experiencing symptoms of AIDS. Further tests showed that she, herself, had HIV. As did four of her five children. It was a family tragedy. But in the midst of that, Kestler's colleague had noticed something odd.
The woman knew how she must have been infected—her ex-husband had been an intravenous drug user. But that had been more than 20 years ago. She, and her oldest child, had had HIV for over two decades without developing any symptoms. And her second-oldest child—who shared the same father—wasn't infected with HIV at all.
I've written here before about long-term non-progressors—a rare class of people who can be infected with HIV and live for decades without the virus ever developing into anything serious. Their secret: mutations in their genes that prevent HIV from binding to cells, which means it can't invade the cells or replicate.
Yesterday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, I visited the student poster session, a place where undergraduate college students present research projects they're involved in and compete against one another to earn their poster a spot in an upcoming issue of the journal Science. Read the rest