HIV/AIDS Newsroom: November 28, 2000
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Reverse Transcriptase and Protease Mutation Search Engine for Queries
Nature Medicine (medicine.nature.com)
11/00; Vol. 6, No. 11, P. 1290; Shafer, Robert W.; Jung, Duane R.; Betts, Bradley J.
Researchers from Stanford University discuss new technology for sequence variation, through the use of databases of the International Nucleic Acid Sequence Data Library. Sequence variation in HIV reverse transcriptase and protease can be used as targets for antiretroviral therapy. GenBank provides over 10,000 published HIV RT and protease sequences. The sequences of HIV-1 provide evidence of genetic change and mutations. Secondary databases can help catalog HIV sequence variations for untreated HIV patients, helping physicians and patients devise therapy that works best for them. A search engine such as HIV-SEQ gives a brief synopsis of data on over 60 mutations and uses annotated sequence data on patients receiving anti-AIDS drugs. The researchers suggest that mutation search programs will be useful for the medical profession.
A United Nations report to be released today indicates that the number of new HIV case in sub-Saharan Africa dropped slightly this year, although prospects for the region are still grim. UNAIDS head Dr. Peter Piot warned that the decline is "no reason to cry victory. It doesn't make us very optimistic." Possible reasons for why the sub-Saharan epidemic has stabilized, Piot said, could be that prevention efforts may have helped in several nations or that the people at greatest risk of infection have already contracted HIV. Meanwhile in Russia, the number of new HIV infections skyrocketed from 130,000 in 1999 to 300,000 this year. Piot predicted that if this pace of new infections continues, the country could see over 1 million HIV cases by 2005. Globally, an estimated 5.3 million people have contracted HIV this year, including 600,000 children aged 15 or younger. Some 72 percent of the new HIV infections are in southern Africa.
U.N. Takes AIDS Battle to Internet
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (www.accessatlanta.com)
11/28/00; P. 5C; McKenna, M.A.J.
As the number of HIV infections worldwide continues to soar, an online project of the United Nations Development Program offers a suggestion for how people can help. Located at www.NetAid.org, the site focuses primarily on extreme poverty; however, an HIV/AIDS program was recently added. The program asks for donations to buy "kits" -- specific amounts for supplies, training, and transportation -- to help fight AIDS in Third World nations. The site provides detailed data sheets for every project and a "donation counter" to show how much has been donated and spent for each program.
Nearly one year after the city declared a state of emergency because of high rates of HIV infection among local minorities, the Houston Health Department is working to increase awareness of the disease. In Houston, African Americans make up more than 50 percent of the new HIV infections reported through September, but they only represent one-quarter of the city's overall population. Hispanics account for 17 percent of new HIV cases and make up one-third of the city's population, but the numbers are rising. One problem, according to experts, is the reluctance of minority leaders and role models to talk about the epidemic. Adding to that problem is the fact that the behaviors that help to spread the virus, such as having multiple sex partners or using injection drugs, are also difficult for people to discuss. While officials are using billboards, radio spots, and lectures to boost AIDS awareness, they hope to enlist African-American ministers, young people, athletes, and others to join the battle.
A recent insurance industry conference in Cape Town warned that unless aggressive measures are taken to stem the spread of HIV and to improve treatment for those already infected, AIDS will take the life of one South African every minute within five years. According to a statement from Lifeworks, an industry organization established to deal with AIDS, the disease is "the single most strategic issue facing our economy."
Australian health officials announced on Monday that over 2,000 people in Queensland are infected with HIV. Gold Coast health coordinator Jennifer Vella noted that while the primary mode of HIV transmission is men who have sex with men, there has been an increase recently of new cases resulting from heterosexual sex. Vella, speaking at the opening of AIDS awareness week, stressed the need for people to practice safe sex. The theme of the AIDS awareness effort, "All Men -- Make a Difference," aims to involve men more in HIV prevention campaigns.
Australia has approved the first human trials of an HIV vaccine to be conducted in the country. The year-long study, to be held in Melbourne and Sydney, will involve 36 HIV-infected individuals. Robin Gorna of the Australian Federation of AIDS noted that while laboratory tests on animals were promising, it will be at least five years before researchers know whether the vaccine is effective in humans.
A new survey from Time Out magazine indicates that approximately 40 percent of respondents have had group sex. The survey, which questioned 600 men and women in London last month, also reports that 21 percent of the men and 1 percent of the women said they had visited a prostitute at least once. More than half reported having visited a sexual health center, and about 50 percent said they had been tested for HIV.
New statistics show that the number of new tuberculosis (TB) infections in Japan soared last year, for a per-capita rate of 38.1 cases per 100,000 people. The Japanese government declared a TB state of emergency in 1999, and health experts are now working to improve prevention efforts. There is a lack of research funds, however, as well as a shortage of TB specialists to focus on the disease. The increase in TB in Japan is being furthered by several factors, including a rapidly aging population, a weak economy, and pervasive ignorance about the disease.
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.