Thursday, July 3, 2008

HIV/AIDS: The Body Website

I just recently re-discover The Body website. It was once my favorite website to be updated on HIV/AIDS stuff. I don't know why I stopped visiting it.

Two things I found that were fun on the front page this AM:

1) There's a really good transcript from a Podcast Dr. David Wohl, who is an HIV researcher at UNC. He lists off 10 major developments in HIV in the last year, and it's worth an entire read (here). But this part caught my eye, as I had heard a little about the "sperm washing" techniques for HIV+ men who want to have children (esp since the focus on HIV in children is on women), but this is the most concise information I've heard on the subject. A little piece of it:

What's a little bit less clear is what to do about HIV-infected men who are in a discordant relationship -- meaning they're in a relationship with a woman who is HIV negative. Can they produce a child? We shouldn't underestimate the drive of our species to reproduce, and how much joy people get from that. It's hard to deny people with HIV that, and this has become an ethical issue as well as a scientific issue and a medical issue.

This study addressed the biological issue.22 The researchers looked at sperm washing, which is a technique where the sperm, which are not infected with HIV, are separated from the semen and surrounding cells that are infected with HIV. That sperm is used to artificially inseminate the woman, either directly or in vitro, to create a baby. This is a technique that is offered at clinics across the world, and the idea here in this study was to report on that experience.

What the researchers found was that among the over 1,000 couples who underwent the procedure, pregnancy was the result in 51 percent of these cases. There were 410 deliveries. Things looked great, and six months after the procedure, almost 1,000 women had negative HIV antibody tests. There was no known female seroconversion after this procedure.

I think that is really important information that doesn't say that it's impossible or that this is 100 percent completely safe. It says that the HIV risk is extremely low for an HIV-negative woman when this procedure is used. This is good news and this is something people are very interested in.

Unfortunately, the price really precludes a lot of people from using this procedure. But at least it's an option and it's something people can have a little more faith in if it's something they want to pursue.

2) There is a great response from Dr. DeJesus (ha! Jesus...) about the possible cure for HIV. I have been saying for years that we don't have cures for almost any virus, currently, so the likelihood of a cure is much lower than a vaccine, which we have had much more success in developing against virii in the past. However, DeJesus corrects me (though I am partially correct):
As opposed to other types of infections, such as bacterial and fungal, etc, viral infection are difficult to eradicate. As you know, they are intracellular infections that rely on our own cell machinery to replicate. Many incorporate their genetic material into our own DNA, such as hepatitis B and HIV, which make it virtually impossible (or perhaps better said "if possible, very, very difficult") to eradicate. Other viral infections do not incorporate their generic material in the host cell they infect, but rather establish reservoirs and/or dormant phases, such as many herpes viruses. But there are viral infections that are curable! Hepatitis C is an example of a curable viral disease, among a few others, as they fail to integrate into our own DNA and their reservoirs are easily targeted.

Our efforts in finding a preventive vaccine have been fruitless, and at the present time there are no viable candidates in development after recent failures of several prototype vaccine candidates; but therapeutic vaccines to aid in the delay of HIV progression may appear to some a more realistic option.

Anyways, just FYI. The Body has been added to the Blogroll to your right.

3 comments:

Kristina said...

Stating that HCV is a curable disease is a dangerous statement as well as a false one! HCV has neither a cure or a vaccine.It is treatable, controllable but NOT curable. In some (50% of Genotype 1 & 70-90% of genotype 2 or 3)it can however, be put into remission which is referred to as SVR (Sustained Virological Response) which means a level of virus so low it is undetectable by the standard test x 6mo. but still present in the blood! For example the virus may be present at 0.050%. The reason this frustrate me is because we cannot expect people to donate time, money or concern for a disease that they believe is curable. I challenge anyone who thinks they are cured from HCV to go give blood. If you are cured you should be able to donate....you cannot! Please choose your words more carefully when talking about HCV. Thank You. Kristina P.

Barry Floore said...

Agreed. 100%. I was merely quoting the text. However, interfuron is a highly effective medication, if hugely difficult for the patient on it. But, you're right. It's not curable, but it's INFINITELY more treatable and controllable (from a medical stand point, not a social one) than, say, HIV in the long run.

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