HIV/AIDS Newsroom: August 30, 2000
Ribozyme-Mediated Inhibition of HIV 1 Suggests Nucleolar Trafficking of HIV-1 RNA
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online (www.pnas.org)
08/01/00 Vol. 97, No. 16, P. 8955; Michienzi, Alessandro; Cagnon, Laurence; Bahner, Ingrid; et al.
Researchers from the Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, California, evaluated the functional role of the Tat and Rev HIV regulatory proteins. It has been shown that express of Rev induces nucleolar relocalization of protein factors. The researchers suggest that the nucleolus may have a vital role in HIV-1 RNA export. According to the report, an examination of HIV-1 RNA inserted into small nucleolar RNA showed evidence that there is trafficking of HIV-1 RNA through the nucleoli of human cell.
Botswana's Minister of Health, Joy Phumaphi, recently announced that the country is considering a mandatory law for disclosure of HIV status to sex partners. An estimated 36 percent of Botswana's 150 million residents are infected with HIV. The proposed law has created fear that fewer people will seek HIV testing. Josef Decosas of the Southern African AIDS Training Program states that women may be further disempowered because of the law, because women who give birth to an infected baby are more likely to be required to comply with the mandate. Decosas also expressed concern about the proposed law's effects on prostitutes. He said that he "would prefer to see an HIV-infected female sex worker have regular access to sexual health care services and intensive support for consistent condom use, than to see her try and make a living on the run from the law."
AIDS Virus Used B-Cells to Spread: Study
Agence France Presse (www.afp.com)
A new study from the National Institutes of Health shows that HIV, which destroys T-cells, can also attach itself to B-cells in blood and spread throughout the body. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the study helps scientists understand how HIV infection continues in the body. Co-author Susan Moir noted that HIV apparently does not reproduce inside B-cells but rides on the cell surface to T-cells. The research is published in the September 5 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine (2000;192:637-646).
Prompted by a high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in Alaska, healthcare workers have launched an outreach program to help identify and treat infected residents. State law requires health workers to report all cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Alaska reported nearly 1,900 cases of chlamydia in 1999, with 302 cases of gonorrhea. John Palmer, the STD/HIV coordinator at the Alaska Native Medical Center said he saw 287 people with gonorrhea, chlamydia, or both infections last year, and he has recorded 270 cases so far this year. Palmer predicted, "We are going to have a lot more infection for the year 2000." Healthcare workers, the Alaska Native Medical Center, and the Section of Epidemiology joined forces to reach people who have STDs but are unaware of it. It is unclear if there are more cases of STDs, or if better reporting is leading to a rise in cases. Debbie Riner, a registered public health nurse, says that based on a description, she can locate partners of a patient with an STD, and from there she tracks down partners of the partners. Often, gonorrhea and chlamydia have no symptoms for a long time, and without treatment, they can damage the reproductive system and cause infertility.
In Trinidad, and most of the Caribbean, AIDS carries a stigma so great few people openly admit they are infected with HIV. Jemma Taylor felt the stigma, but decided that she needed to end the silence in Trinidad, where a lack of funding and fear of losing tourists keeps the disease quiet. An international AIDS conference being held in Barbados next month aims to shed light on the spread of HIV in the Caribbean. According to Peggy McEvoy, the Caribbean leader for the UNAIDS organization co-sponsoring the conference, official statistics show that 360,000 people in the region have HIV; however, experts believe the number is much higher, around 500,000. Poverty, social norms, early sexual experiences, multiple partners, gay discrimination, and religion are all factors surrounding the epidemic in this area. Most of the region's governments have little money to work with. Indeed, the annual budget for Trinidad's National AIDS program is only $100,000, most of which is used for pamphlets to educate parents about their children's sexuality.
Researchers from Belgium, led by Dr. Robert Colebunders of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, have found that long-term use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can result in curly hair. The researchers write in the Archives of Dermatology (2000;136:1064-1065) that a 48-year-old truck driver diagnosed with HIV in 1991 had hair that went from straight to curly after two years of HAART. The patient had undetectable viral load during the hair changes. The scientists, who note that other hair changes during HIV-1 infection have previously been reported, suggest that the curly hair could be the result of protease inhibition of CRABP-1.
President Clinton stressed the need for HIV/AIDS prevention and education during a speech at Nigeria's National Center for Women's Development in Abuja over the weekend. Clinton pledge U.S. support for initiatives to help women and children avoid disease, and he called on women to break the silence around AIDS. For fiscal year 2000, the United States has committed $9.4 million to HIV/AIDS prevention and care in Nigeria, and the fiscal year 2001 budget request includes $500,000 for a Department of Labor program to begin workplace-based HIV/AIDS education and prevention. In addition, the Department of Defense plans to help Nigerian defense forces with HIV/AIDS prevention, training, and education.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that it has started notifying approximately 670 AIDS patients or their families that they will receive $100,000 checks under the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund. The act was passed in 1998 to compensate patients with blood-clotting disorders who contracted HIV from tainted blood products used between 1982 and 1987. Last year, President Clinton convinced Congress to give $75 million to the fund, and the administration is seeking the remainder of the $750 million program. The relief fund was named after a Sarasota, Florida, teenager who died from AIDS in 1992.
Public health nurse Mary Mason enters crumbling garages, houses, and trailers in Los Angeles County, California, to help reach poor and uninsured people, many of whom do not speak English. She often sees patients with food-borne illnesses, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, or hepatitis, with cases of meningitis or whooping cough less common. Mason, who discusses public health issues to her patients, notes, "There is a lot of fear and mistrust." Mason's surveillance area includes 100,000 people living in Sylmar, Pacoima, and Sun Valley.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.