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Good News! HIV Now Has A Cure Possible

The London man is HIV-free after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made him resistant to HIV. His cancer has also gone into remission.

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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

An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus. At a conference in Seattle, the U.N. agency leading the global effort to end AIDS said the agency is greatly encouraged by the possibility of an HIV-positive man being cured, but there is still a long way to go.

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.” Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, made the announcement.

“The breakthrough gives us great hope for the future, but also shows how far we are from the point of ending AIDS with science, as well as the absolute importance to continue to focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts,” he said.

The London man is HIV-free after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made him resistant to HIV. His cancer has also gone into remission.

Professor Ravindra Gupta at University College London said the man is now off anti-AIDS medication.

“We waited 16 months before stopping in the post-transplant period just to make sure that the cancer was in remission, the patient was well and that the measures we had of the HIV reservoir in the body showed that there was very, very little virus there, if any at all,” he said.

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“We now have reason to believe that the Berlin patient was not a one-off case… meaning it is possible to nearly, or even completely, eliminate HIV from an infected person,” he said. Pixabay

Gupta hesitates to call it a cure, but this is the second patient to show no signs of the HIV virus after a similar stem cell transplant. The first man was an American treated in Berlin 12 years ago. Dr. Rowena Johnston, director of research at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, says this second success is significant.

“We now have reason to believe that the Berlin patient was not a one-off case… meaning it is possible to nearly, or even completely, eliminate HIV from an infected person,” he said.

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Just like the Berlin patient, Gupta says the British man who is being called the “London patient,” also received stem cells from a donor with a rare mutated gene called CCR5.

“If you transplant those cells into someone who already has HIV, you may protect those new cells from infection,” he said. (VOA)

 

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East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health

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FILE - Aranmolate Ayobami, plastic surgeon at Grandville Medical and Laser clinic in Lagos, holds a tube of Skinlite a skin lightening product used at his clinic, on July 17, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

East African countries are set to ban skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent linked to health problems when used in high concentrations. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution calling for a region-wide ban on the manufacturing and importation of products containing hydroquinone.

At a beauty parlor in Arusha, 52-year-old Rose Mselle has been using skin-bleaching products since she was a teenager. She says women like her want to be beautiful. “And in the process of looking for beauty, or for our skin color to shine, we use things that we shouldn’t,” she added.

At a nearby market, 32-year-old clothing vendor Janet Jonijosefu used skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent used to treat dark spots, for years. She stopped after her skin became fragile.

She said the beauty products containing hydroquinone badly affected her skin. She started developing patches on her face. She went to the doctor and was advised to stop using products containing hydroquinone and instead use aloe vera.

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FILE – A shop sells skin-lightening products in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2018. VOA

Skin-lightening products often use high concentrations of hydroquinone, which can cause skin problems or become toxic when mixed with other bleaching chemicals.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa ban or regulate the agent in cosmetics. Tanzania bars imports. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution on a region-wide ban of hydroquinone’s manufacture and importation.

Suzan Nakawuki, a member of the regional assembly from Uganda, noted that hydroquinone is not only used by women but also men. “We have seen men bleaching seriously even more than women,” she said. “But it’s becoming a problem. If we don’t regulate it, it is going to become very problematic.”

When used medically, hydroquinone can be an effective treatment for skin discoloration. Some East African lawmakers spoke out against a blanket ban. Aden Abdikadir, a lawmaker from Kenya, said he is concerned a blanket ban will cause “serious trade disruption” for cosmetics.

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If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. Wikimedia Commons

If signed by heads of state, the ban becomes law in all six East African Community states, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Critics point out bans on hydroquinone have failed to stop smuggled products from being sold openly. Cosmetics labeled as having hydroquinone are on display at shops in Arusha.

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. (VOA)