Monday October 22, 2018

World Aids Day : World Health Organization (WHO) Issues New Guidelines on HIV Self-Testing

This year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing

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December 1, 2016: For nearly three decades every December 1 is observed as World Aids Day. AIDS has killed 35 million people since the start of the pandemic. It has left millions of  the orphans in its wake. Every year, 2 million people acquire the virus, and the U.N. estimates that more than 1 million people die from the virus annually.

Taboos related to sex and AIDS is so deep rooted that often people shy away even testing HIV. So this year, World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on HIV self-testing.

• According to the latest WHO progress report, “lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organization’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART).”

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• “Millions of people with HIV are still missing out on life-saving treatment, which can also prevent HIV transmission to others,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in the release.

• The easy self-testing kit will give the results in just “20 minutes”.

• The WHO report says, “HIV self-testing means people can use oral fluid or blood- finger-pricks to discover their status in a private and convenient setting.”

• The basic care facility and counseling centers to help the patients is already ensured by the UN. Not only that, they would also help the patients to fight against the social stigma which is attached to it.

• The report also focuses on how testing is low among people who are involved in the same-sex relationships, sex workers, transgender, drug addicts and prisoners.

• WHO’s self-testing kits are provided by for free. It also supports other measures that would help people get other such kits at low prices.

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• The release highlights, “HIV self-testing is a way to reach more people with undiagnosed HIV and represents a step forward to empower individuals, diagnose people earlier before they become sick, bring services closer to where people live, and create demand for HIV testing. This is particularly important for those people facing barriers to accessing existing services.”

• WHO hopes that this will have a positive impact and it will be helping those is affected. The organization also urged all the nations to come together and fight, in order to end it by 2030.

– by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram with inputs from various agencies. Twitter: @PinazKazi

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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)