South African AIDS Researcher Wins 500,000-Euro French Prize

A US healthcare company has identified a new subtype of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and said the finding showed that cutting edge genome sequencing is helping researchers stay ahead of mutations./ AFP



A South African HIV researcher who found that a topical gel could stop many women catching the virus has been awarded one of France’s top science prizes.

Quarraisha Abdool Karim won the half a million-euro ($551,000) Christophe Merieux Prize for her work for the Durban-based Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), which she heads.

The Institut de France, which runs the prize, praised her work tracing “the cycle of transmission” of the virus, with “young women generally getting it from men 10 years their senior”.

They also hailed her work on vaccines for the virus and how to treat people who have tuberculosis and are also HIV positive.

Professor Abdool Karim is best known for a study that found that a gel of the anti-retroviral drug tenofovir was effective in reducing the risk of women catching HIV and genital herpes during sex.

Abdool Karim, 60, has previously won her homeland’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, as well as a prestigious L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science award.

Her husband, fellow epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim, is the South African government’s main scientific advisor for COVID-19. She also sits on the board of experts tackling the pandemic there.

The award was due to be presented in Paris next week, but the ceremony was cancelled because of the coronavirus.




HIV Can Be Flushed Out By Cancer Drug, Researchers Say

hiv virusThere is good news from the health world where researchers say the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be flushed out of its hiding places in the body using a cancer drug.

Already, the anti-retroviral therapy, kills the virus in the bloodstream, but leaves “HIV reservoirs” untouched.

This latest study shows that the cancer drug is “highly potent” at reactivating hidden HIV.

Experts say the findings are interesting, but it is important to know if the drug is safe in patients.

A strategy known as “kick and kill” is thought to be key to curing HIV. The kick would wake up the dormant HIV, allowing the drugs to kill it.