New York, September 20, 2017: People living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy, but smoke tobacco cigarettes are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.
The findings showed that overall people with HIV who take antiviral medicines, but who also smoke are six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.
“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“Lung cancer is now one of the leading killers of people with HIV, but most of these deaths can be prevented,” added Rochelle Walensky, Professor at Harvard Medical School.
Among men who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 23 per cent of moderate smokers and 19 per cent of light smokers.
For women who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 21 per cent of moderate smokers and 17 per cent of light smokers.
“The data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programmes should be integrated into HIV care just like antiviral therapy,” Reddy said in the paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
However, among those who managed to quit smoking at age 40, only about six per cent die of lung cancer.
“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” suggested Travis Baggett, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.
AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency
The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October
About 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year
South Africa, July 20, 2017: For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.
AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries. Further to counter the AIDS epidemic, people are also looking for HIV home tests so that medications related to HIV can be started in the early stages.
Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.
The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October.
According to the report, about 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year.
UNAIDS also said there were about 36.7 million people with HIV in 2016, up slightly from 36.1 million the year before.
In the report’s introduction, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS’ executive director, said more and more countries are starting treatment as early as possible, in line with scientific findings that the approach keeps people healthy and helps prevent new infections. Studies show that people whose virus is under control are far less likely to pass it on to an uninfected sex partner.
“Our quest to end AIDS has only just begun,” he wrote.
The report notes that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies. It also said five hard-hit African countries now provide lifelong AIDS drugs to 95 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding women with the virus.
“For more than 35 years, the world has grappled with an AIDS epidemic that has claimed an estimated 35 million lives,” the report said. “Today, the United Nations General Assembly has a shared vision to consign AIDS to the history books.” The death toll from AIDS has dropped dramatically in recent years as the wide availability of affordable, life-saving drugs has made the illness a manageable disease.
But Harman said that “Ending AIDS” — the report’s title — was unrealistic.
“I can see why they do it, because it’s bold and no one would ever disagree with the idea of ending AIDS, but I think we should be pragmatic,” she said. “I don’t think we will ever eliminate AIDS so it’s possible this will give people the wrong idea.” (VOA)
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New York, May 30, 2017: American researchers, including one of Indian origin, have developed a test that is sensitive enough to detect “hidden” HIV and yet is faster, less labour-intensive and less expensive than the current “gold standard” test.
HIV virus has a knack for lying dormant in immune cells at levels undetectable to all but the most expensive and time-consuming tests.
“Globally there are substantial efforts to cure people of HIV by finding ways to eradicate this latent reservoir of virus that stubbornly persists in patients, despite our best therapies,” said senior author Phalguni Gupta, Professor at University of Pittsburgh in the US.
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“But those efforts aren’t going to progress if we don’t have tests that are sensitive and practical enough to tell doctors if someone is truly cured,” Gupta said.
HIV spreads by infecting CD4+ T cells, which are a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in protecting the body from infection.
Once HIV therapy is working, it becomes critical to determine if the HIV DNA being detected by a test could actually create more virus and cause the person to relapse if therapy is stopped.
Therefore, the test must be able to show that the virus it detects can replicate — typically by growing the virus from the sample.
To date, the best test available to do this is called a “quantitative viral outgrowth assay,” or Q-VOA.
The new test that Gupta’s team developed is faster, less labour intensive, and less expensive, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Called TZA, it works by detecting a gene that is turned on only when replicating HIV is present, thereby flagging the virus for technicians to quantify.
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It also requires a much smaller volume of blood, the study said.
“Using this test, we demonstrated that asymptomatic patients on antiretroviral therapy carry a much larger HIV reservoir than previous estimates — as much as 70 times what the Q-VOA test was detecting,” Gupta said. (IANS)
LONDON, March 23, 2017: A global tobacco treaty put in place in 2005 has helped reduce smoking rates by 2.5 percent worldwide in 10 years, researchers said Tuesday, but use of deadly tobacco products could be cut even further with more work on anti-smoking policies.
In a study published in the Lancet Public Health journal, researchers from Canada’s University of Waterloo and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that while progress against what they called the “global tobacco epidemic” has been substantial, it has still fallen short of the pace called for by the treaty.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into effect in 2005, obliges the 180 countries signed up to have high tobacco taxes, smoke-free public spaces, warning labels, comprehensive advertising bans and support for stop-smoking services.
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Smoking causes lung cancer and is a major risk factor for cardiovascular illnesses such as heart disease and strokes, which kill more people than any other diseases.
The WHO says tobacco kills about six million people a year globally and imposes a huge burden on the world economy. Annual health care and lost productivity costs for those made ill from smoking are estimated at around $1 trillion.
The study analyzed WHO data from 126 countries — 116 of which are signatories to the FCTC — and tracked and compared the implementation of the five key measures from 2007 to 2014 to look at links between strong policies and smoking rates.
It found that, on average, smoking rates dropped to 22.2 percent in 2015 from 24.7 a decade earlier. But the trends varied, with rates falling in 90 countries, rising in 24 and remaining steady in 12.
Countries that fully implemented more FCTC measures saw significantly greater reductions in smoking rates, the study found. Overall, each additional measure was linked with a drop in smoking rates of 1.57 percentage points — corresponding to 7.1 percent fewer smokers in 2015 compared with in 2005.
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The study was not a full global analysis, since only 65 percent of countries had the data needed, but it did include countries from all income levels and regions. The researchers also noted that the lower smoking rates could be influenced by factors other than FCTC policy recommendations.
“The data did not allow a detailed analysis of the impact of individual policies,” said Geoffrey Fong of Waterloo University, who co-led the work.
He called for more studies that are specifically designed to evaluate the impact of all FCTC policies and would “help provide guidance to countries about what policies may offer the greatest benefits.” (VOA)