The risk of contracting HIV is 14 times higher for female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) than for women in the general population, according to a study published Online First in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Three decades have passed since the global HIV epidemic started, yet the knowledge about HIV amongst sex workers is still limited, despite these women's increased risk of infection because of higher exposure to biological, behavioral and structural risk factors. Dr. Stefan Baral, from the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD, USA, and his team decided to perform a meta-analysis of 102 studies that included nearly 100, 000 female sex workers in 50 countries. They discovered an overall HIV occurrence in 12% of female sex workers in LMIC, and that sex workers were 14 times more likely to be infected with the virus as compared with the general female population in those countries.
Treatment with the common diabetes drug metformin appears to prevent progression of coronary atherosclerosis in patients infected with HIV. In a presentation at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers reported that study participants receiving daily doses of metformin had essentially no progression of coronary artery calcification during the year-long study period, while participants receiving a placebo had calcium increases of up to 50 percent. The study also found that lifestyle modification - participation in regular exercise and dietary counseling sessions - did not have a significant effect on calcification, although it did improve several cardiovascular risk factors. "HIV-infected patients are known to have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and elevations in traditional risk factors - such as insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels and hypertension, " says Steven Grinspoon, MD, director of the Program in Nutritional Metabolism in the MGH Neuroendocrine Unit, the study's principal investigator.
A new research report appearing in the March 2012 issue of the journal GENETICS shows why the development of a cure and new treatments for HIV has been so difficult. In the report, an Australian scientist explains how he used computer simulations to discover that a population starting from a single human immunodeficiency virus can evolve fast enough to escape immune defenses. These results are novel because the discovery runs counter to the commonly held belief that evolution under these circumstances is very slow. "I believe the search for a cure for AIDS has failed so far because we do not fully understand how HIV evolves, " said Jack da Silva, Ph.D., author of the study from the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia. "Further insight into the precise genetic mechanisms by which the virus manages to so readily adapt to all the challenges we throw at it will, hopefully, lead to novel strategies for vaccines and other control measures.
1. ACP Releases Guidance Statement for Colorectal Cancer Screening* ACP urges adults to get screened starting at age 50 Even though the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in reducing deaths is supported by the available evidence, only about 60 percent of American adults aged 50 and older get screened. ACP has released a new guidance statement for colorectal cancer screening recommending that physicians perform an individualized risk assessment for colorectal cancer in all adults. For adults at average risk, physicians should screen for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. For adults at high risk (strong family history, personal history, inflammatory bowel disease) screening should begin 40, or 10 years younger than the age at which the youngest affected relative was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Mobile phones could play a valuable role in helping HIV patients to take their medication every day, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers found that patients were less likely to miss doses if they were sent weekly mobile phone text message reminders. Text messaging is increasingly being used as a means of support in health care, including to help promote attendance at clinics and hospitals, and to increase contact between patients and care workers. There is also some evidence that text messaging helps tuberculosis patients to take their daily medication. Now researchers say text messaging could be used as a tool to help millions of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) stick to these regimens. ART can help these patients to feel better and live longer, but often comes with side-effects that make it difficult for some patients to take the medication every day.