Courtesy Gary van der MerweThe news earlier this week generated big headlines. A baby born in Mississippi two years ago with AIDS has been cured. But how ground-breaking is the situation really?
That's the question now before researchers and medical review boards. Is this the first step in break-through treatment or a medical oddity? Here's an article that provides a great summary of the situation.
On the diminished side of the coin, transmission of AIDS from mother to infant is a relatively rare occurrence these days. Three separate treatments can be administered when an HIV-positive mother becomes pregnant, greatly reducing the risk of transmission of the virus to the child. More than 90 percent of all cases of AIDS transmission to babies happen in sub-Saharan Africa. And, can these same treatments have the same impact in adults?
On the other hand, in this particular situation, the mother received no prenatal care prior to delivery, so the infant received no treatment for the situation prior to delivery. The presence of AIDS was discovered during delivery, so the treatments given to the newborn – all three forms of the typical prenatal treatments – were administered after birth. Some researchers say that this could be the first step in new approaches of treatment for adults with AIDS. Some even proclaim it the first step toward an AIDS-free generation.
What do you think? Is this a medical oddity or a medical breakthrough? What research or information would you like to see to determine if this would be a good avenue to travel to eradicate AIDS?
Courtesy The da Vinci® S™ Surgical SystemI'm not exactly sure what this will entail, but the Science Museum of Minnesota's internal newsletter states:
DA VINCI SURGICAL ROBOT HERE SEPTEMBER 30
Regions Hospital invites you to operate the da Vinci surgical system. On Wednesday, September 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the robot will be on display in the museum's Human Body Gallery. Practice your surgical moves and learn how futuristic robotic-aided surgery is helping people.
So if you wanna do some play future surgery, come on down.
Here's a heart-breaking and inspiring story about an 18-year-old Missouri youth who has lived almost his entire life with AIDS. He received his high school diploma this past weekend. With as much AIDS education as we've had over the years, it's really amazing some of the misconceptions this youth has had to deal with through his school years...and that he's still living an active, mostly healthy life.
Researchers at the International AIDS Conference sifted through published papers on the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission. They say that while a popular estimate pegs the rate of HIV transmission through heterosexual sex at 1 per 1000 contacts, true rates of infectivity are all over the map and dependent on many variables. The infectivity rate for certain sorts of activities is much, much higher-- as high as 1 in 3 contacts. The take away message? "Claims in both the popular media and the peer-reviewed literature that HIV is very difficult to transmit heterosexually are dangerous in any context where the possibility of HIV exposure exists."
The HIV virus attacks white blood cells by latching onto a protein on their surface. People without that protein are immune from AIDS. Using that knowledge, scientists in Pennsylvania have figured out how to genetically manipulate mice so they, too, have the immunity.
The procedure has not yet been tested on humans. If it does work, it wouldn’t cure the disease, but it could let infected persons live healthier lives with the virus.
Herpes is on the rise in New York city – one in four adults carries the disease.
And HIV is on the rise across the United States – though experts say that is due to better, more accurate counting rather than to any real increase in the disease.
On the plus side of the ledger, the World Health Organization has recognized that AIDS is unlikely to become an epidemic among heterosexual (straight) populations in the West. Not that folks can all go about being careless, but it is far less common than many feared it would be. The disease is epidemic among all groups in sub-Saharan Africa.
And, just in time for the pool party season, comes news that you can't catch AIDS from swimming pool water, even if people have been engaging in natatorial naughtiness.
Courtesy Stig Nygaard
Two years ago, an article in the journal Science noted that rates of AIDS infection were falling in Zimbabwe, south east Africa, thanks to the “ABC” program. “ABC” stands for “Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms” – three things that help prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Other countries using the ABC approach, including Uganda and Kenya, also report success in stemming the tide of AIDS.
The report was in the news again lately as Congress debates funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Rep. Chris Smith of NJ cited this and other studies as evidence of the program effectiveness. (An argument for continuing the funding can be found here. )
The program is controversial, however, because it adds a moral dimension to medical treatment. Many aid workers don’t want to be in the position of telling people how to live, or imposing a particular view of right and wrong behavior on another culture. They would rather just treat the disease. OTOH, this particular disease spreads through a particular behavior. Programs that rely exclusively on condoms without any behavioral component have had little success against the AIDS epidemic.
Some people see this controversy as playing politics with a world health crisis. But others take it very seriously. In 2005, Brazil refused to accept US funds for their AIDS program because it came with the requirement that workers try to discourage prostitution. Many aid groups argue that such a provision hurts their ability to reach the people who need help the most. The government argues that discouraging prostitution and sex trafficking makes all kinds of sense when combating an STD.
It would be good to get this sorted out soon, since there is no vaccine against AIDS, and some scientists believe it may be impossible to ever make one.
What do you think? Should aid workers try to combat disease by changing people’s behavior? Or should they just stick to medicine? And should government funding come with such restrictions? Leave us a comment.
Courtesy Bill SwindamanHave you ever wondered why you never see alligators in the waiting room at the clinic?
For one thing, alligators have really bad medical insurance. But the bigger reason they stay so healthy is in their blood. New research has shown that alligator blood can kill off 23 different strains of bacteria. In effect, the gators have antibiotics in their blood.
Researchers started looking into alligator blood after noticing that the creatures rarely get infections despite all the wounds they suffer in their violent lives.
Why does any of this matter to us? The discovery could have huge impacts for our health. For one thing, experiments have shown the alligator blood is able to destroy much of HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS.
More specifically, alligator blood (and the blood of many other reptiles) is high in peptides, which are fragments of proteins). Learning more about these peptides could lead to the creation of medicines we’d be able to use to fight off strong viruses like HIV.
Don’t worry. You won’t be getting any transfusions of alligator blood the next time you’re at the hospital. Researchers estimate that pills or creams with the peptides that are also present in alligator blood might be ready for the human marketplace within the next seven years.
Re-Entering the Dating Scene
Now that you know you have genital herpes, you're out of the dating game, right? Absolutely not. There's no reason to stop looking for love and fun.
Genital herpes doesn't detract from your many desirable qualities, which have drawn people to you in the past and will continue to make you a great catch.
Broaching the Topic of Genital Herpes
The first date after your diagnosis may seem a little strange, however. If you hope to be sexually intimate with your date at some point, you may feel like you're keeping a nasty secret. If you are one to be candid with people, you'll want to blurt it out. Don't. There are some things you should reveal about yourself right away -- for example, that you're married, or that you're just in town for the week -- but some things are better left for the appropriate moment.
It's up to you to decide the right time to tell your date that you have genital herpes. Follow two rules: First, don't wait until after having sex. Second, don't wait until you're just about to have sex -- in which case the attraction may be too strong for either of you to think rationally and act responsibly.
If in the past you tended to start a new relationship with sex, you now might want to change your approach. It might be better to break the news about your herpes to someone who has already grown attached to you. Kissing, cuddling, and fondling are safe, so you don't have to tell before you do that. But use your best judgment as to how physically intimate you want to get before telling. One thing could lead to another, and you might find yourself in an awkward situation.
Dealing With Rejection
Anyone who dates should be prepared for rejection. The person you're seeing may beat a hasty retreat when he or she finds out about your genital herpes. If you get the "I just want to be friends" talk after telling your sweetheart you have herpes, consider this: He or she may have already been looking for a way out, and herpes was as good an excuse as any. What's more, anyone who disdains you or humiliates you for having herpes was never worth your while.
Keep dating, and you will find someone who wants to be with you regardless of your herpes status. There are certainly some who wouldn't mind keeping the intimacy level just short of doing things that could transmit the virus. And of those people, it's likely that at least one will come around, and say, "Hey, I understand there's a risk, but I'm crazy about you, so I'm willing to take it."
Depending on your dating style, you might look for another person who knows he or she has herpes, if only to avoid having to discuss it. If you already use dating services or personal ads, you can also use any of those specifically for people with genital herpes. A search on the Internet for "herpes dating" will turn up several.