Sunday April 5, 2020

AIDS is the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally

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New York: The number of adolescent deaths from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years, most of the patients having acquired the disease when they were infants, according to new data released on Friday by Unicef.

AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally. Among HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing, according to Unicef, as reported by a news agency.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence, girls are vastly more affected, accounting for 7 in 10 new infections among 15-19-year-olds. However, among adolescents in that age group in the region, just over 1 in 10 are tested for HIV, it said.

“It is critical that young people who are HIV-positive have access to treatment, care and support,” said Craig McClure, head of Unicef’s global HIV/AIDS programmes. “At the same time, those who are HIV-negative must have access to the knowledge and means to help them stay that way.”

According to the data in Unicef’s Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS, less than half of children under 2 months old are tested for HIV. Only 1 in 3 of the 2.6 million children under the age of 15 living with HIV is on treatment.

The new data states that most adolescents who die of AIDS-related illnesses acquired HIV when they were infants, 10 to 15 years ago when fewer pregnant women and mothers living with HIV received anti-retroviral medicines to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child.

However, since 2000, nearly 1.3 million new infections among children have been averted, largely due to advances in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

By 2014, 3 in 5 pregnant women living with HIV received anti-retroviral treatment to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies. This has translated into a 60 percent reduction in AIDS-related deaths among children under 4 years of age since 2000, according to the Unicef.

The data reveal that currently among adolescents (15-19): 26 new infections occur every hour; and about half of those living with HIV are in just six countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.

(IANS)

(Picture credit:www.stop-homophobia.com )

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Here’s why HIV Vaccine Trials Failed in South Africa

HIV vaccine trials are halted in South Africa due to failure

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The latest trial of a vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been halted as results show it is not working. Pixabay

By Eunjung Cho

The latest trial of a health vaccine against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been halted as results show it is not working.

The Maryland-based U.S. National Institutes of Health announced Monday it has stopped the HVTN 702 study in South Africa, following a recommendation of an independent data and safety monitoring board.

The study, also called Uhambo — meaning travel or a journey in Zulu — enrolled 5,407 HIV-negative volunteers at 14 sites across South Africa beginning in 2016. Participants were sexually active men and women between the ages of 18 and 35, who were randomly assigned to receive six injections of either the investigational vaccine regimen or a placebo.

HIV Vaccine Fails
Pharmacist Mary Chindanyika looks at documents on a fridge containing a trial vaccine against HIV on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. VOA

Over a period of 18 months, enough time for the vaccine regimen to stimulate an immune response, there were 129 HIV infections among the vaccine recipients and 123 HIV infections among the placebo recipients. The findings showed there wasn’t significant evidence that vaccination either decreased or increased infection rates.

The trial in South Africa was based on an earlier trial in Thailand, the RV144 clinical trial, the only vaccine that has ever shown any degree of success in protection from HIV. Scientists say they will continue to study the results of the HVTN 702 trial, to find out why the vaccine that had modest efficacy in Thailand didn’t work in South Africa. Researchers said there were no safety concerns about the vaccine itself.

Experts have voiced disappointment in the decision to stop the vaccine trial in South Africa.

“Whilst this is a significant setback for the field, we need to continue the quest for a preventive vaccine. The rates of HIV infection, which continue unabated in this region, should spur greater urgency, global attention and investment to the quest,” said Linda-Gail Bekker, past president of the International AIDS Society and chair of the Enterprise Advisory Group.

“An HIV vaccine is essential to end the global pandemic, and we hoped this vaccine candidate would work. Regrettably, it does not,” said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the NIH.

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South Africa has one of the world’s highest HIV rates. According to UNAIDS, more than 20 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 49 were HIV-positive in 2018.

Multiple HIV vaccines have been tested since the 1990s. (VOA)