Friday October 19, 2018

Film actors to promote AIDS awareness campaign

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Hyderabad: Global NGO TeachAIDS on Monday said it has roped in 22 leading Indian film actors to create instructional animated multi-media content to promote HIV education, especially in schools.

Launched on the eve of world AIDS Day, the material is available free of cost for all on the NGO’s website.

Indian-American Stanford University lecturer and social activist Piya Sorcar, the founder of TeacherAIDS, told reporters that they have also made 100,000 CDs for distribution among state AIDS control societies, schools, hospitals, and counseling centres.

Amitabh Bachchan, Akkineni Nagarjuna, Shabana Azmi, Suhashini Maniratnam, Anushka Shetty, Sudeep, Suriya, Imran Khan and Shruti Hassan have given their voice for the animations to promote HIV prevention among Indian youth.

The material has been prepared in seven languages – Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Assamese, Odia and English.

Trustee Amala Akkineni said they embarked on the project following the good feedback from a Telugu CD prepared in 2011.

Sorcar said through in-depth research and intensive localization, the NGO creates state-of-the-art HIV education materials and makes them available for free and accessible to those who need them most.

She said the initiative would go a long way in promoting awareness among school children as the teachers feel shy to discuss the subject.

“We are humbled that this initiative has the support of the most iconic cultural figures of India who have donated their voices and personalities to this movement,” she said.

C. Partha Sarathi, former project director of Andhra State AIDS Control Society, said the response to the TeachAIDS software created earlier was spectacular and filled a learning gap among children which was missing.

Telangana’s Information Technology Secretary Jayesh Ranjan said the content would be shown at Digital Telangana kiosks coming up across the state.

Spun out of Stanford University, TeachAIDS (www.teachaids.org) is a nonprofit social venture that creates breakthrough software solving numerous persistent problems in HIV and AIDS prevention around the world.

(IANS)

(Picture credit:image.dramatize.com)

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Next Story

An Experimental Vaccine to Treat Malaria

Scientists hope to get a better grasp on the system these vaccines employ, known as cellular immunity. Harnessing this system could help tackle hepatitis and HIV infection.

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Vaccines
A doctor assists people looking for treatment for malaria at a health center in San Felix, Venezuela. VOA

After decades of disappointment in efforts to develop a malaria vaccine, researchers are starting to see promise in a new approach.

While most vaccines trigger the body’s defenses to produce antibodies against a disease-causing germ, the new approach recruits an entirely different branch of the immune system.

If it works, it could open up a new route to attack other diseases, including hepatitis and possibly HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Nearly 450,000 people die of malaria each year, according to the World Health Organization. The parasites that cause the disease are increasingly becoming drug-resistant.

One successful vaccine has been developed so far, but it prevented only about a third of cases in a clinical study.

Experts have decided that’s better than nothing. The vaccine is being piloted in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi.

Vaccine
Defensive cells killed liver cells that were infected with malaria parasites. (VOA)

New angle

Other scientists are trying a different angle of attack.

There are basically two ways to prevent germs from causing infections. “You either prevent them from getting into cells with antibodies, or you kill them inside the cells with T-cells,” said Stephen Hoffman, chief executive officer of Sanaria, a company working on one vaccine.

Most vaccines target the infection by building up antibodies. “If you need to kill them inside the cells with T-cells, we haven’t been overwhelmingly successful,” Hoffman said.

But Sanaria is one group seeing success by targeting malaria parasites inside infected liver cells, the first stop in the complex life cycle of the disease.

One key difference is how the vaccine is delivered. Hoffman’s group tried a typical route: injecting radiation-weakened parasites into patients’ skin or muscle. That didn’t work.

But it did work when injected directly into veins.

Vaccine
A public health worker takes a blood sample from a woman to be tested for malaria in Bo Rai district, Trat province, Thailand. VOA

The weakened parasites traveled to the liver, where they set off an immune reaction. Defensive cells killed liver cells that were infected with malaria parasites.

And the liver’s defenses were ready when faced with the real thing months later.

Most of that early work has been done in mice and macaques. When Hoffman and colleagues did something similar with a handful of human patients, most were protected against infection.

No waiting

Recruiting immune cells in the liver is especially effective because “we don’t need to wait until the immune system figures out that the parasite is in the liver and starts mounting an immune response, which can take days and sometimes weeks,” said Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University.

“By then, the malaria’s gone. It only spends a week in the liver, and then it’s out in your blood causing disease.”

Vaccine
FILE – A worker of the Ministry of Public Health and Population fumigates in the street against mosquito breeding to prevent diseases such as malaria, dengue and Zika in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 15, 2016. VOA

Hill’s group just published a study in the journal Science Translational Medicinein which immune cells in the liver were triggered by using a protein from the parasite, rather than the entire organism.

Scientists hope to get a better grasp on the system these vaccines employ, known as cellular immunity. Harnessing this system could help tackle hepatitis and HIV infection.

Also Read: Alcohol Kills More People Than AIDS, Violence Combines: WHO

Drugs can control HIV infection but can’t eliminate it from the body.

“If somebody could get cellular immunity to work really well for vaccination, that would be transformative for a whole range of diseases,” Hill said. “Not just for infectious diseases that we want to prevent, but ones that we want to treat and we can’t treat today.” (VOA)