The hallmark loss of helper CD4+ T cells during human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ) infection may be a red herring for therapeutics, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. HIV preferentially infects CD4+ T cells, immune cells required to generate protective antibodies. In many people, this leads to a progressive drop in CD4+ T cell numbers - and the more the numbers fall, the faster AIDS develops. HIV-induced cell loss includes both 'naive' CD4+ T cells (those that have never encountered a pathogen) and 'memory' CD4+ T cells (fast-acting cells that 'remember' a previous encounter with a pathogen). Normally, newly generated naive CD4+ T cells can help to replace their lost memory brethren. Thus replacing these naive CD4+ T cells in AIDS patients has become a focus for some anti-viral therapy.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have discovered that marijuana-like chemicals trigger receptors on human immune cells that can directly inhibit a type of human immunodeficiency virus ( HIV ) found in late-stage AIDS, according to new findings published online in the journal PLoS ONE. Medical marijuana is prescribed to treat pain, debilitating weight loss and appetite suppression, side effects that are common in advanced AIDS. This is the first study to reveal how the marijuana receptors found on immune cells - called cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 - can influence the spread of the virus. Understanding the effect of these receptors on the virus could help scientists develop new drugs to slow the progression of AIDS. "We knew that cannabinoid drugs like marijuana can have a therapeutic effect in AIDS patients, but did not understand how they influence the spread of the virus itself, " said study author Cristina Costantino, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
One in four HIV patients was found to have been sexually abused as a child, according to a two-year Duke University study of more than 600 HIV patients. Traumatic childhood experiences were also linked to worse health outcomes among these patients, who are aged 20 to 71. More than half of these patients in the Coping with HIV/AIDS in the Southeast (CHASE) study had experienced sexual or physical abuse in their lifetimes, according to researchers from the Duke Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR). Half of the patients had experienced three or more lifetime traumatic experiences, which, in addition to sexual or physical abuse, could include such experiences as witnessing domestic violence as a child, a parent's suicide attempt or completion, or losing a child. "For whatever outcome we looked at, psychological trauma ended up being a predictor of worse medical outcomes and poorer health-related behaviors, " said lead author Brian Pence, a Duke associate professor of community and family medicine and global health.
A study published in the print issue of Neurology® , the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, suggests that a larger waistline may be associated with a greater risk of decreased mental functioning in HIV-positive individuals. J. Allen McCutchan, M.D., MSc, of the University of California, San Diego, and lead researcher of the study, explained: "Interestingly, bigger waistlines were linked to decreased mental functioning more than was general obesity. This is important because certain anti-HIV drugs cause weight gain in the center of the body that is most dramatic in the abdomen, neck, chest, and breasts." The researchers enrolled 130 HIV-positive individuals, approximately 46 years of age, with HIV infection for an average of 13 years from six clinics to participate in the study.
Problems with the correct use of the male condom, such as not wearing a condom throughout sex or putting it on upside down, are common in the U.S. and have become a major concern of public health officials. New research shows that countries around the world are facing similar challenges. An unprecedented collection of condom use studies, published in the journal Sexual Health, provides a global perspective on condom use problems and errors, along with new research on factors influencing correct condom use, how condom use programs can be more effective, and the promotion of the female condom. Led by The Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team, or CURT, more than 20 researchers from around the world examine and discuss issues such as safe-sex behaviors by American adults, counterfeit condoms in China and use of female condoms in South Africa.