It's not all bad news. People are living longer, we're winning the fight against malaria, worldwide poverty is down, and eight more reasons for hope in the coming year.
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario have announced the launch of human clinical trials of a preventative HIV vaccine.
In a recent paper published in Nature Hansen et al. show the efficacy of their unusual vaccine strategy against SIVMAC239 in rhesus macaques. While the goal is not necessarily to produce a human vaccine against HIV using this exact strategy, this paper is now reigniting the debate over the progression of HIV infections and the mechanism(s) by which the virus skirts the human immune system.
There is no question that HIV is an ugly virus in terms of human health. Each year, it infects some 2.7 million additional people and leads to some two million deaths from AIDS. But a new album manages to locate some sonic beauty deep in its genome. Sounds of HIV (Azica Records) by composer Alexandra Pajak explores the patterns of the virus's nucleotides as well as the amino acids transcribed by HIV, playing through these biologic signatures in 17 tracks. [more inside]
A new HIV vaccine is showing promising results, reducing the risk of contracting the virus by 32 percent. While further tests are still needed, the vaccine is a combination failed HIV vaccines AIDSVAX and ALVAC, based on the Canary Pox virus. The study itself faced criticism from the outset.
Maybe it's time to give up. Last year's failed clinical trial for Merck's HIV vaccine (which once appeared so promising) led many to claim that AIDS vaccine research is in crisis. According to an unprecedented poll conducted by The Independent most scientists involved in AIDS research believe that a vaccine against HIV is further away than ever and some have admitted that effective immunisation against the virus may never be possible. [more inside]
AIDS really did come from chimps in the 1950s --..."We're 25 years into this pandemic," Hahn said. "We don't have a cure. We don't have a vaccine. But we know where it came from. At least we can make a check mark on one of those." ... ...Identifying the source of the HIV pandemic is more than filling in a missing link in the disease's progression. ...
It is estimated that due to an infected polio vaccine, 10 million to 30 million people in the United States from 1955 through early 1963 were inadvertently exposed to live Simian Virus #40, a pathogen linked to various cancers. If it happened before, maybe it happened again. Perhaps AIDS was just another accidental contamination originating in an American lab - this time a hepatitis vaccine gone wrong. Why assume conspiracy Dr Cantwell?
First Documented Case of HIV hybridization in a human being was presented at the International AIDS Society conference in Paris. In this case, genetic tests on a superinfected woman showed that the two strains she was infected with swapped genetic material, creating a new hybrid strain of HIV. The actual effects are not yet clear, but this could pose a serious problem for researchers trying to create a vaccine.
Steve Schalchlin, a singer-songwriter, writes about living with AIDS in his online journal. Students at Marshall High School put themselves in the shoes of an HIV-positive girl, in the project My name is Kerry and I have AIDS (Now I'm dead!). Journalist Eric Foss keeps a diary about his visits to AIDS victims in Zambia, with pictures, video and interview transcripts. Adam Solomon writes at length about training for and participating in several AIDS rides for vaccine and cure charities. Five years old, but still affecting, there's AIDS worker Paul Gallotta's AIDS diary. Supporting group efforts of AIDS victims and other interested parties is the journal Being Alive. There's a vast catalog of compelling first-person perspective at HIV/AIDS Positive Stories, at Avert.org, and at Breaking the Silence... Rompiendo El Silencio from the AIDS Project Los Angeles.
The NIH is abandoning phase III trials of a possible hiv vaccine due to "technical reasons" the trial will continue in thailand. On a happier note there are currently more than 90 other hiv vaccines in other stages of trials. What do people think are the chances the pharmaceuticals will decide chronic disease management is more profitable, and actually do something to make this a more likely outcome?