Designer babies, the end of diseases, genetically modified humans that never age. Outrageous things that used to be science fiction are suddenly becoming reality. The only thing we know for sure is that things will change irreversibly. [more inside]
"In his final arguments to the jurors, Groenweghe called Johnson’s accusers “promiscuous.” Hands in his pockets, eyes downcast, he told the members of the jury that these young gay men “have a lifestyle I don’t understand, that many of us don’t understand. But, he said that HIV criminalization laws weren’t put on the books by legislators just to protect them, but to protect the public health — including the health of the jurors." [more inside]
[Eleven] days ago, The New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog published an essay by Michael Specter titled “What Young Gay Men Don’t Know About Aids,” in which Specter points to the increase of “unprotected anal intercourse among gay men,” claims that “the rates of HIV infection will surely follow,” and then identifies the cause of this shift as the ignorance of my generation, who weren’t around to see the AIDS epidemic for themselves. The piece is a call to arms of sort, stating the need for increased public funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, and concludes by quoting Larry Kramer’s famous 1983 warning, “1,112 and Counting.” It’s a familiar argument—one that, in my lifetime, I have heard repeated ad nauseam and, I fear, largely misses what AIDS means to me and many other young gay men.
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
What if a deadly epidemic was burgeoning and almost nobody noticed? In the latest issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a distinguished group of virologists, epidemiologists and infectious-disease specialists say that’s not a hypothetical question. They argue that Chagas disease, a parasitic infection transmitted by blood-sucking insects, has become so widespread and serious — while remaining largely unrecognized — that it deserves to be considered a public health emergency. [more inside]
Foldit - Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players
Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists. The structure of a protein causing AIDS in rhesus monkeys had not been discovered in 15 years of attempts. Players of a videogame did it in ten days. Foldit, the game in question. Abstract. Previously, previously.
Yeah so here are some kittens we made that glow in the dark something something cure for AIDS science.
A team of researchers from the Hebrew University has developed a treatment that completely destroys HIV-infected human cells in laboratory cultures, according to an article published last month in the scientific journal AIDS Research and Therapy. The full text of the article is available here as a PDF: Specific eradication of HIV-1 from infected cultured cells. Previously.
A summary of two papers on newly-discovered antibodies that can neutralize 91% of HIV strains: "Structural Basis for Broad and Potent Neutralization of HIV-1 by Antibody VRC01" and "Rational Design of Envelope Identifies Broadly Neutralizing Human Monoclonal Antibodies to HIV-1"
Death by firing squad is imminent (timeline) for a Palestinian doctor and five Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting 426 girls and boys at the al-Fatah Hospital in Benghazi with HIV, after having the sentence lifted a year ago and sent to retrial. Libya stands accused of using the children as diplomatic pawns and torturing confessions out of the health workers. Nature has published a series of articles refuting the dubious evidence provided by Libyan researchers, which many think was concocted to cover up the poor hospital hygiene that likely caused the infections in the first place. [previously]
CDC Recommends it for Everyone between 13 and 60 This seems like a very expensive proposition. It appears more people are living with this virus without knowing about it.
"They do not use Western means to tell time. They use the sun. These drugs have to be administered in certain sequences, at certain times during the day. You say, take it at 10 o'clock, they say, what do you mean, 10 o'clock?" They, of course, refers to "Africans" and the above logic from the head of USAID was used an explanation for why it's tough to extend AIDS treatment to Africa. The only problem with this argument is that it's wrong. People with HIV in developing countries are in better compliance with drug regimes than in the US as new research is showing [RealAudio]. As we've seen throughout the epidemic, it's a lot easier to get funding for researchers in lab coats than for actual treatment . . .
Some numbers. 3.1 million in 2002 comes out to some 8,500 a day, 354 an hour, and almost 6 a minute. Each minute. Each hour. Each day. Deaths. Of AIDS.
Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct, yet scientists insist that we make a great effort to save endangered species. If extinction is the natural course of evolution, why bother? And if humankind is the cause of these lastest extinctions and endangerments, should efforts be made to save people so that their exploitation of the natural world can continue? Aren't our efforts to fight diseases such as the aids epidemic in Africa not only a denial of evolutionly forces but also adding to the problem of overpopulation exerting unbearable pressure on the environment? If evolution is truely the force it's claimed to be can it's course be changed by mankind and if so, should it be? Should evolution be allowed to take its course?
Thanks to a breakthrough in medical technology allowing HIV-infected semen to be purified of the virus, thousands of men will now be able to father children whose high-school graduations they'll never live to see. Is there no limit to human vanity?
Chlamydia seems to be on the rise. Working in a hospital lab I've seen an increase in tests for HPV, Herpes and Gonorrhea. It's enough to make one wonder if sex is worth the risk.
Nineta's story: Video of a AIDS infected Rumanian kid fighting the medical bureacracy for therapy. Rumania has the highest no of pediatric AIDs cases - a legacy of the Ceausescu days when tainted blood and dirty needes were used regularly for blood transfusions (from WP)
AIDS Timeline:1926-Present with comprehensive links, thanks to Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and AEGIS (AIDS Education Global Information System), "...a service the Centers for Disease Control calls 'the best of its kind'..." (See How Aegis Began) People making a difference.
CCR5 This gene encodes for a protein on T cells that allows HIV to enter and replicate. It's also another reason why AIDS has less of an effect on European populations - 10-15% of Northern Europeans carry a defect that doesn't allow the attachment, so 1% or so is homozygous for the 'faulty' gene and appears to be completely resistant to HIV/AIDS.
Vaccine Prevents AIDS in Monkeys and could lead to human medicine. Exciting huh? Anyway, if that should happen, how much do you think they'll charge for treatment, considering the conspiracy theories and all that?
AIDS? SHMAIDS! Have you heard the news? "A growing group of bio-medical scientists claim the cause of AIDS is still unknown. These heretics do not believe in a lethal AIDS virus. They claim that the virus is indeed harmless. Most of them think AIDS is also not sexually transmitted; it probably has toxic causes. People die because they are poisoned to death by antiviral drugs. Part of the AIDS dissidents even question the existence of a virus entity. These skeptics say that the AIDS virus has never really been isolated, and the AIDS tests are worthless..." Yeah. And my childhood dog really did go live on a nice farm after he was hit by a car.
Everyday life for a teenager with AIDS: Stephanie Lee Ray, a 12-year-old with AIDS, is proving the doctors wrong. She was not supposed to live past age 5, so she lives for every moment. She wants to play and grow and go to school. She has felt the effects of people's ignorance about the disease. She has suffered disapproving stares and comments.Rather than feel sorry for herself, she prefers to educate people to make wise choices. She knows that her life really counts. (The story is almost 2 years old, and the wonderful pix aren't archived with it, but it's worth reading anyway, especially for the feel of a life when any cold or simple fever can become a life-threatening crisis.)
Today is World AIDS Day, and to commemorate this event (and the day without art and day without weblogs), I'll be posting AIDS/HIV-related links and I ask you all to do the same. A good information resource for today is the CDC's FAQ on AIDS. And I bet you've never seen the virus' life cycle before.