HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 20, 2000
Concurrent and Sequential Acquisition of Different Genital Human Papillomavirus Types
Journal of Infectious Diseases Online (www.journals.uchicago.edu/JID)
10/00 Vol. 182, No. 4, P. 1097; Thomas, Katherine K.; Hughes, James P.; Kuypers, Jane M.; et al.
While coinfection with many types of human papillomavirus virus (HPV) has been reported, it is now known how frequently this happens. A study of 518 women conducted by scientists at the University of Washington at Seattle followed women for about three years, collecting cervical samples every four months to test for the virus. According to the authors, no two types were more or less likely to be seen concurrently, although concurrent acquisition of multiple types was seen more frequently than expected. The authors conclude that, in terms of sequential acquisition of HPV types, the "risk of acquiring a new HPV type was not decreased among those with prior infection by a phylogenetically related or unrelated type."
A new vaccine made of DNA has shown promising results in controlling HIV in monkeys. Initial results from a study by Dr. Norman Letvin of Harvard Medical School and colleagues indicate that the vaccine was able to keep the monkeys healthy after they were infected with HIV, maintaining a low viral load so that HIV was undetectable in their blood. Dr. Letvin emphasizes the data only relates to monkeys, but hopefully it can be used to create a human vaccine in the future. Dr. Letvin's study, published today in the journal Science, details how his team injected eight rhesus monkeys with DNA that included two HIV genes and then infected them with HIV. The eight control monkeys that received a sham vaccine became ill within weeks, while the vaccinated monkeys lived for 140 days -- the duration of the test -- with no detectable virus in their blood, no immune system deterioration, and no indications of poor health. Dr. Gary Nabel, director of vaccine research at National Institutes of Health, which funded the study, said that although caution is needed when applying these findings to humans, the study "shows for the first time that by vaccinating in an appropriate way we can alter the course of HIV infection in terms of its ability to cause disease." A key discovery that led to the vaccine research was the discovery that killer T-cells, or CD8 cells, attack not a virus, but cells that have been infected by the virus. Letvin used this knowledge to induce monkeys to produce CD8 cells through the DNA vaccine. The new vaccine, which included components provided by Merck & Co., prompted the infected monkeys to use up to 30 percent of their CD8 cells to fight HIV, instead of between 5 percent and 10 percent.
Satcher Warns of New AIDS Casualties
United Press International (www.upi.com)
Surgeon General David Satcher warned Thursday that HIV cases are soaring among African Americans and Hispanics. Speaking at a conference on "AIDS and Communities of Color" in San Antonio, Satcher said that African Americans and Hispanics account for 69 percent of new HIV cases, even though they make up just 23 percent of the U.S. population. The disease is increasingly affecting women -- particularly minority women -- although they still account for less than one-third of all cases. Satcher asserted that AIDS must receive proper funding and attention and that prevention efforts are needed to help minority communities better understand the disease.
The Africare benefit dinner on Wednesday night honored World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn for his service to Africa and his determination to fight the AIDS epidemic there. The dinner brought together over 2,000 politicians and diplomats in Washington, D.C. In a videotaped message, President Clinton spoke about Africa's efforts to stop AIDS and said it is now our turn to help. Africare President C. Payne Lucas said, "The reason we're focusing on AIDS is no one has done enough about AIDS. ... Unless we do something now, Africa will be destroyed" by the disease. The keynote speaker at last night's event, Ronald V. Dellums, the chairman of the presidential advisory council on HIV/AIDS, also noted that the dinner helped draw attention to the problem in Africa, saying that it reflects how "the conspiracy of silence around the global pandemic of AIDS has been broken."
The Washington Hepatitis C Coalition met on Wednesday, discussing the topics of prevention, treatment, and counseling for people with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Awareness of the infection is crucial, as health officials estimate 200 people in the state will die from HCV infection this year, the majority unaware of their infection. Dr. Maxine Hayes, state health officer, explained that symptoms of the blood-borne infection can take 20 years to show. Dr. Robert Carithers of the Liver Transplantation Program at the University of Washington fears that millions of people are spreading HCV unknowingly. He also noted that most people with HCV have no long-term problems; however, if they are not aware of their infection, these individuals could unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has received $186 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on three projects in developing nations. MSH, based in Boston, will work on improving healthcare in poor countries and increasing vaccination among children. Approximately half of the grant will go to the Advance Africa project to improve reproductive health services in Africa. MSH also plans to improve access to drugs, vaccines, and contraceptives for developing countries, and it will use about $37 million to help increase the availability of treatments for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and maternal health in up to 20 countries.
Britain has urged governments and pharmaceutical companies to join forces and reduce drug prices in developing regions. International Development Secretary Clare Short said Thursday that only 10 percent of global research funds are targeted at the 90 percent of disease burden that affects the poorest people. Short called for partnerships between the public and private sectors to fund new research into malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. Short also voiced her support for a "Global Vaccine Purchase Fund," in which governments would make a legal pledge to buy vaccines at a set price, to prevent various pricing problems and provide motivation for future studies.
South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has criticized AIDS activists in her country for importing low-cost drugs for AIDS-related conditions. Earlier this week, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said that it had imported 5,000 Biozole capsules, a cheaper form of Pfizer's Fluconazole, from Thailand. Tshabalala said the importation was "not acceptable in a country that is governed by the rule of law," but she also noted that the government will continue trying to work with pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of AIDS drugs. The Democratic Alliance party also criticized the TAC's decision, saying the drugs did not go through quality control, which could lead to dangerous, and possibly even fatal, situations.
At the 10th South Pacific Nurses Forum, Queensland Health's Chris Barron reported that Papua New Guinea is dealing with an HIV epidemic, with a 30 percent increase in infections in the past year. Proper testing and treatments are not available, Barron said. In addition to HIV, the official warned that tuberculosis is a problem in the region, noting that "we've got two epidemics that are sort of ready to blast off in PNG."
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.