Friday March 22, 2019

About 2.5 Million People Infected with HIV Each Year: Study

During the past decade, the rate of new infections has "stayed relatively constant" since its peak in 1997 of 3.3 million new infections per year

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An early clinical trial shows that passive immunization with an HIV-1 neutralizing antibody can help lower the amount of virus in the blood of an HIV-1-infected subject. Image source: Science Translated Medicine
    • About 2.5 million people are infected with HIV every year, according to a recent analysis of a global AIDS study
    • According to the GBD 2015 study, 75 percent of the new HIV infections occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while south Asia accounted for 8.5 percent and south-east Asia for 4.7 percent
    • Between 2005 and 2015 the use of antiretrovirals has increased from 6.4 percent to 38.6 percent for men and from 3.3 percent to 42.4 percent for women

About 2.5 million people are infected with HIV every year, according to a recent analysis of a global AIDS study.

During the past decade, the rate of new infections has “stayed relatively constant” since its peak in 1997 of 3.3 million new infections per year.  While the rate of annual death from HIV/AIDS has been in a steady decline from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2015.

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“Although scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission have had a huge impact on saving lives, our new findings present a worrying picture of slow progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past 10 years,” said lead author Haidong Wang.

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The report, which analyses findings of the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study, was published in the Lancet HIV Journal to coincide with the launch of the International AIDS meeting in Durban, South Africa.

According to the GBD 2015 study, 75 percent of the new HIV infections occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while south Asia accounted for 8.5 percent and south-east Asia for 4.7 percent.

Hai Dong Wang Image Source: globalhealth.washington.edu
Hai Dong Wang. Image Source: globalhealth.washington.edu

It says that in southern Africa, more than one percent of the populations of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were becoming infected with HIV. In Europe, Russia and Ukraine had the highest rates, while Cambodia had the highest rates in Asia.

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Between 2005 and 2015 the use of antiretrovirals has increased from 6.4 percent to 38.6 percent for men and from 3.3 percent to 42.4 percent for women.

Despite those increases, the study says most countries fall short of the UNAIDS target calling for countries to ensure that 81 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are receiving ART by 2020.  Although according to report, no country has met that goal, Sweden, the United States, Netherlands and Argentina are all close at about 70 percent

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Stem Cell Transplant Shows Promise For AIDS Treatment: Study

The doctors stressed the need for proper guidelines around the new treatment, which, if proved successful in more cases, could change lives of millions of people

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School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

Although the news of a second person being cured of HIV through stem cell transplant is exciting and may pave the way for future treatments, experts say the treatment may not work in case of all patients infected with the AIDS causing virus.

“The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks and weakens the immune system, reducing its ability to fight diseases or infections,” Girish Badarkhe, Haematologist at HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru, told IANS.

“The stem cell transplant primarily involves reprogramming the immune system to be HIV-resistant. But there a small percentage of people who are naturally resistant to HIV infection due to rare genetic mutations known as CCR5-delta 32,” he stressed.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, a man in London, who prefers to remain anonymous, was treated with stem cell transplants from donors with CCR5-delta 32 mutation. It made him resistant to HIV, just like the first cured case of Timothy Ray Brown, better known as the “Berlin patient”, a decade ago.

The London man was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and was put on anti-retroviral therapy in 2012. He was later diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer of the immune system.

After undergoing chemotherapy, he underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016 and also continued with anti-retroviral drugs for 16 months.

doctors
Scientists have been searching for a cure for HIV/AIDS for close to 40 years. The director of UNAIDS called news that a man in London has been functionally cured of HIV a “breakthrough.” VOA

He did not experience HIV rebound, during the 18 months he did not take anti-viral medication.

“While the development is exciting, it cannot be applied to a normal HIV patient who can be treated with the regular anti-retroviral drugs, as the London man was also suffering from cancer of the immune system,” Badarkhe said.

“Stem cell transplants are an established treatment, particularly for blood related cancer with 70 per cent success rate. “In this case, he got cured both from cancer as well as the AIDS,” Badarkhe said.

Globally, 36.9 million people were living with HIV in 2017. With an HIV prevalence of 0.26 per cent in the adult population, India has an estimated 2.1 million people with HIV, shows UNAIDS data.

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“Besides, the stem cell therapy is also linked to increased death risks and is also not cost-friendly,” Badarkhe said.

However, experts are enthusiastic about the promise that the cure of the London patient showed.

“It is a positive news. But there is a need for more scientific facts and evidence to be established,” V. Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director at AIDS Healthcare Foundation India, told IANS.

The doctors stressed the need for proper guidelines around the new treatment, which, if proved successful in more cases, could change lives of millions of people. (IANS)