Sunday, February 04, 2007

On the HIV/AIDS Battlefront

Iranian Scientists Boasting New Herbal-Based Med for HIV/AIDS
Ron Brynaert is reporting at Raw Story that scientists in Iran are claiming to have found an herbal-based medication with no known side effects called 'IMOD' that they say will help to control the AIDS virus and increase immunity in patients who have tested HIV positive.

Opinion: AIDS burden worsens and the silence lingers by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Eight years ago, I wrote this: "The silence, the absence of voices raised in fear, raised in warning, raised in alarm -- raised -- is deafening." [..] Eight years later, the silence is still loud and the numbers are worse. Blacks now account for nearly half of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses and contract AIDS at a rate 10 times that of whites. Sixty-four percent of all American women living with HIV/AIDS are black. AIDS is the leading cause of death for black women 25 to 34 years old. [..] And eight years later, Gaye's advice still haunts. Because while poverty plays a role in those ghastly numbers, while access to healthcare and lack of information are factors, who can deny that the main reason for this plague is the silence, the closed-mouth social conservatism, the priggish moral rectitude, of a people still ill at ease discussing sexuality, homosexuality, drug use and other realities. Instead, we mouth piety, prayers and platitudes while the world burns down around us.

Halt of trials a setback in AIDS fight

Researchers said last week that they had shuttered two trials of a microbicidal compound because preliminary data found that women using it were contracting HIV, which causes AIDS, at a higher rate than those not using it. [..] The halt was a setback for Conrad, a Virginia health-research group supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which hoped to market the compound. [..] It's the second time in recent years that a microbicide appeared to increase the risk of HIV infection rather than retard it.

New WHO Chief fails to stand up for people living with AIDS

Approximately 108,000 of 500,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand depend on GPO-VIR, the generic version of the first-line anti-retroviral therapy produced by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. According to the Thai government, an estimated 20,000 of these patients have developed resistance to the drug, and are in need of Kaletra. [..] “AHF is alarmed by Dr. Chan’s comments regarding Thailand’s move to increase access to lifesaving AIDS medications for its citizens in need. It is clear that, despite the WHO’s mission to attain the highest possible level of health for all people, the health of people living with HIV in Thailand is not among Dr. Chan’s priorities,” said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s President. “Thailand’s move to issue a compulsory license for Kaletra will likely lower the price of this lifesaving drug to nearly half of its current cost and will mean the difference between life and de ath for thousands of Thai citizens in need. The comments made by Dr. Chan serve only to undermine Thailand’s efforts to protect the health of its people and it is appalling that in her position she would choose to advocate for multinational corporate interests over the interests of people living with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. AHF seeks immediate clarification from the Director General on her position regarding Thailand’s efforts to protect the health of its citizens.”

Seattle area sees drug-resistant HIV

SEATTLE -- A hard-to-treat strain of the virus that causes AIDS has been found in four gay men in Washington's King County, and authorities fear it could spread to more. [..] There is no evidence that the troublesome strain of HIV is spreading rapidly, but its appearance underscores the need for renewed emphasis on safe sex practices, said officials in the Seattle-King County Public Health Department.