Friday, April 17, 2009

HIV/AIDS Updates

A few little tidbits for you this morning:

  • In an effort to make HIV drugs more profitable (strange, I know, but keep reading), GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer are creating a new company solely to handle their HIV sales. Because of the expense, the field is actually not that profitable because people who need the drugs are, on average, poorer and would not be able to pay the exorbitant prices required for the R&D of each drug. Combining their resources will, they believe, reduce the overhead cost and increase their profits without having to charge more.
  • In related news, the Clinton Foundation and an international HIV drug purchasing consortium -- Unitaid -- have struck a deal with drug manufacturers to cut prices for improverished nations. The average annual cost of the first line treatment falls to $210; second line treatments fall from $700 to $590 per annum.
  • Two releases out of ScienceDaily have breakthrough news about the virus itself -- in one, HIV actually deactivates the cell's proteins that help protect itself from viral infection; in the other, HIV actually harms itself to dodge the current immune system from detection.
  • Based on changes in the level of CD4 count -- a test for the body's immune function against HIV -- of newly diagnosed HIV+ individuals, there is reason to believe that HIV is becoming more virulent over time. The research is based both on newly diagnosed patient CD4 counts, as well as the CD4 count of newly diagnosed patients six months after diagnosis.
  • Early estimates of New Jersey's needle exchange program indicate that more than 130,000 used and dirty needles could be taken off the streets this year. New Jersey's HIV rate amongst intravenous drug users is one of the highest in the nation -- at nearly 40% of all infections.
  • Prisons in the US are not the only breeding grounds for HIV -- the UN reports prisons around the world are serving to spread the disease, as well. Officials are concerned predominately with the possible release of the world's 30million detained individuals that could create an HIV "time bomb." Statistics are focused primarily on drug use within prisons, rather than sexual activity.
  • New clinical guidelines have been produced by the NIH and the CDC for the treatment and prevention of opportunistic infections in HIV+ individuals (opportunistic infections are diseases that generally attack immunosuppressed individuals, taking advantage of a reduced immune system to cause potentially fatal results). Previous guidelines were separated into two documents: one for prevention and one for treatment. Officials also changed the diagnostic testing procedures, as well as including new diseases like malaria as an OI.
  • And finally, Michigan may be one of the few states to remove the consent requirement for an HIV test. I'll let you talk about it, but... honestly, I support the move.

And that's all folks!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

As for the Michigan consent thing, I support it because it can only help stop the spread of HIV by making it known that someone has it UNLESS more people (those who already don't want to know) decide not to get tested because of an additional reason which would be that they risk not getting health insurance.