In this week’s Closer to the Cure, we’ve comprised a list of the most interesting topics in HIV news and research. WIth researchers on the brink of a solution, the virus continues to spread in areas impacted by stigmas and a lack of resources.
The South Hardest Stricken with HIV/AIDS in the United States
According to new research at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and the Center for Disease Control, southern states including Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi experience the highest death rates of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in the US. Research which analyzed the growing epidemic and sought to articulate the causes concluded that social stigma, rural geography and poverty, and lack of healthcare infrastructure were contributing factors.
Southern states account for 49 percent of people who are living with HIV, despite making up only 37 percent of the national population, according to research in the Journal of Community Health. It was also determined that southern states have the lowest five-year survival rate for new AIDS diagnoses in the country.
When compared to national averages, patients in the region tended to be younger and more often African American. Heterosexual transmission also attributed to infection cases
One researcher noted,”Historically, the AIDS battle has been thought of as an inner-city problem in America’s largest metro areas, like New York and Los Angeles. But that began shifting in the late 1990s, when protease inhibitors — a class of antiviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS — were released and patients in those cities began benefiting from advances in medicine. Death rates have since declined in those cities.”
Researcher Charged with Falsifying AIDS Research Data
A researcher from Iowa State University is being charged with making false statements in research reports, according to the Des Moines Register.
Dong-Pyou Han, who is free on bond, signed a plea agreement with prosecutors after an attempt to make a developmental AIDS vaccine appear promising. Han was forced to resign from Illinois State University in 2013 after admitting that he faked experiments with an AIDS vaccine.
Doctor from UC Davis Develops Possible HIV Vaccine
Dr. Joe Anderson says he has developed genetically modified human stem cells, which have resisted infection in mice, according to Sacramento news.
Anderson used treatment similar to that which was used for the Timothy Ray Brown, who to date is the only man cured of HIV.
“When we infected the mice that had these HIV-resistant immune cells in them, we saw that HIV infection was blocked. The goal is to give patients new HIV-resistant immune systems. We hope to mimic the same results as scene with the Berlin patient,” he said.
Depending on regulatory approval and funding, researchers hope to begin human clinical trials by the end of 2015.
China Declares 104,000 New HIV/AIDS Cases
Data released by the National Health and Family Planning Commission indicated that China experienced 104,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS nationwide in 2014. The figures determined a surge in overall infection rate last year which were particularly among the elderly and young students. Despite the increase in infections with HIV/AIDS, the Wall Street Journal Blog said that infection rate has remained controlled at low levels.
On the World AIDS Day celebration in China, the WHO mentioned factors contributing to the rise of HIV/AIDS cases and attributed them to the increase of homosexual and male sex workers in China and contaminated needles shared between mothers and infants.
Yahoo reported that discrimination against HIV/AIDS infected patients has been rampant causing a stigma and prevailing hesitation to undergo HIV testing and diagnosis.
Vice head Wang Guoqiang said that China wants to lobby antiretroviral treatments for the virus and hopes to achieve a 21% improvement this year.
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