Wednesday October 24, 2018

Computer Simulations can Predict HIV Spread

The researchers also plan to develop public health computational tools to help the agencies track the disease and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns

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Computer simulations can predict the spread of HIV: Study. Flickr
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Researchers have found that computer simulations can accurately predict the transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) across populations, aiding in preventing the disease.

The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, found that the simulations were consistent with actual DNA data obtained from a global public HIV database.

“We looked for special genetic patterns that we had seen in the simulations, and we can confirm that these patterns also hold for real data covering the entire epidemic,” said lead author Thomas Leitner from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US.

HIV is particularly interesting to study in this manner as the virus mutates rapidly and constantly within each infected individual, the researcher said.

The changing “genetic signatures” of its code provide a path that can be followed in determining the origin and time frame of an infection, the study found.

HIV
For the study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods, examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s genetic code to evaluate how HIV is transmitted. Pixabay

The rapid mutational capability of the virus is useful for the epidemiological sleuthing, but is also one of the features that makes it so difficult to tackle with a vaccine.

For the study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods, examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s genetic code to evaluate how HIV is transmitted.

The research team found that certain phylogenetic “family tree” patterns correlated to the DNA data from 955 pairs of people, in which the transmitter and recipient of the virus were known.

Also Read: Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV — UNICEF

“These HIV transmissions had known linkage based on epidemiological information such as partner studies, mother-to-child transmission, pairs identified by contact tracing, and criminal cases,” the researchers said.

The researchers also plan to develop public health computational tools to help the agencies track the disease and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns. (IANS)

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Individual Types of HPV Linked to HIV Infection

Previous study with female sex workers showed that the HPV vaccine still provided protection to high-risk groups

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HIV
Nearly 40 individual HPV types linked to HIV infection. Pixabay

Scientists have for the first time identified 37 individual types of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that are specifically linked to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

The findings showed that a person with any HPV type, more than one HPV type, or high-risk HPV are more likely to test positive for HIV.

“Although most studies have shown a general link between HPV and HIV co-infection, our findings illustrate the strong relationship between individual HPV types and HIV infection,” said lead author Brandon Brown, Associate Professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“Some HPV types are more linked to cancer and others to warts. This further illustrates the potential utility of HPV vaccine for men who have sex with men and trans women, not only for HPV prevention but also possibly for HIV prevention,” Brown added.

Brown explained that previous research has shown that HPV, in general, was linked to HIV infection, but his research team looked at infection with 37 HPV types and found that individual types are linked, “which is more specific than saying HPV is linked”.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, identified HPV types such as HPV16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 52, 58, linked to HIV.

For the study, the team investigated nearly 600 men who have sex with men, or MSM, and transgender women in Lima, Peru.

HIV
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)

Brown and his colleagues started with two groups, one with genital warts and one without, and followed participants over two years to see who contracted HIV.

Of the 571 participants who completed at least two study visits, 73 acquired HIV in two years — a 6 per cent HIV incidence rate.

Previous study with female sex workers showed that the HPV vaccine still provided protection to high-risk groups.

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Regarding prevention and treatment, Brown recommends the HPV vaccine, widely provided to everyone regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation before sexual debut, and for genital wart treatment.

“Even if the vaccine is not provided before sexual debut, there can be strong benefit if given at any time to prevent HPV-associated disease and also HIV,” he said.

“We know that HPV is the most common STI, and we know that HPV vaccine works to prevent chronic HPV infection. What we need now is to implement the vaccine in a better way. The availability in many other developing countries is low at best and absent at worst.” (IANS)

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