Senate Urge Buhari To Ensure Adequate Funding For NACA To Control Spread Of HIV

 

 

The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to ensure adequate funding of the National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) for the fight and control of the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the country.

This was even as the upper chamber appealed to Nigerians not to stigmatize and discriminate against persons living with the virus, as well as advised all adults to know their HIV status by subjecting themselves to screening.

Accordingly, the Senate also called on the private Sector in the country to embrace the fight against HIV/AIDS by partnering with Government to fund the exercise.

These were resolutions reached by the Senate after consideration of a motion on “World Aids Day” sponsored by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North).

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Utazi, who brought forward his motion through orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules, said there are fears in the HIV community that intervention funders may leave Nigeria soon for places where the deadly virus is yet to be kept at bay.

The lawmaker stated that such fears were as a result of the outcome of the report of the National HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari in March, this year, which showed that prevalence of the virus in Nigeria dropped from 2.8 percent to 1.4 percent among adults aged 15-49 years.

According to Utazi, out of the 1.9 million people living with HIV in Nigeria, over a million of them are currently accessing treatment to achieve viral suppression.

He added, “With the appreciable control of this epidemic and the increasing expectation of further shrinking, the usual funding from foreign donors will equally shrink leaving Nigeria to battle in funding the management and care of people with HIV.”

Worried about the sustainability of the fight against HIV infection and control in Nigeria, the lawmaker posited that in a situation where funding partners pull out of the country, it would become imperative for private sector involvement in raising the needed fund to support government at the Federal and State levels.

US Lab Identifies Rare New HIV Strain

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 US pharmaceutical firm 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.

The strain, HIV-1 Group M subtype L, has been recorded in three people from blood samples taken between the 1980s and 2001, all in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Abbott laboratories told AFP on Thursday.

To classify a new subtype, three cases must be discovered independently, according to guidelines issued in 2000.

Group M is the most prevalent form of the HIV-1 virus. Subtype L is now the 10th of this group and the first to be identified since the guidelines were issued.

Antiretroviral drugs, which today can reduce the viral load of an HIV carrier to the point at which the infection is both undetectable and cannot be transmitted further, have generally performed well against a variety of subtypes, according to research.

But there is also some evidence of subtype differences in drug resistance.

“Since subtype L is part of the major group of HIV, Group M, I would expect current treatments to work with it,” Mary Rodgers, a principal scientist and head of the Global Viral Surveillance Program at Abbott told AFP.

She added that Abbott was making the sequence available to the research community to evaluate its impact on diagnostic testing, treatments and potential vaccines.

“In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location,” added Carole McArthur, a professor of oral and craniofacial sciences at the University of Missouri Kansas City, who co-authored a paper on the finding in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS).

“This discovery reminds us that to end the HIV pandemic, we must continue to outthink this continuously changing virus and use the latest advancements in technology and resources to monitor its evolution,” she added.

The third sample was collected 18 years ago but was difficult to sequence given technical constraints at the time.

Abbott said the breakthrough was possible thanks to next-generation sequencing technology that allowed scientists to build up an entire genome at higher speed and lower cost.

“This scientific discovery can help us ensure we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks,” Rodgers said.

10-Fold Surge In S.Africa Teens Treated For HIV

 

The number of young people in South Africa receiving treatment for HIV has increased 10-fold within a decade, a major new study has found.

South Africa has the largest number of HIV-positive people in the world, with around 7.2 million carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.

Researchers studied more than 700,000 young people receiving treatment for the infection and found 10 times the number of adolescents aged between 15-19 being treated compared with 2010.

Authors of the study, published in The Lancet HIV journal attributed the rise partly due to the success of AIDS prevention programmes that result in better detection and treatment rates.

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However, they found that fewer than 50 percent of young South Africans who present for HIV care go on to initiate antiretroviral therapy, which can prevent transmission and stops a patient from developing AIDS.

“Despite the upswing in numbers initiating therapy, barriers persist that prevent many adolescents from starting treatment,” said Mhairi Maskew from the University of Witwatersrand and the report’s lead author.

These include concerns about stigma, a pervasive sense that clinics cannot guarantee patient confidentiality and increased domestic responsibilities for young people, especially in families where children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

The study found that while those diagnosed with HIV were roughly split by gender, nine in 10 people actively receiving treatment were girls.

The authors said this was consistent with far higher rates of sexually-transmitted HIV infection in young women compared to young men.

AIDS deaths have declined globally since the peak of the epidemic in the early 2000s, but an international AIDS commission warned last year of a resurgence if the world’s booming adolescent population weren’t protected.

Second HIV Remission Patient Rekindles Hope Of Cure

 

For just the second time ever an HIV patient is in sustained remission from the virus in what was hailed by experts Tuesday as proof that the AIDS-causing condition could one day be curable.

Ten years almost to the day since the first confirmed case of an HIV-infected person being rid of the deadly disease, a man known only as the “London patient” has shown no sign of the virus for nearly 19 months, doctors reported in the journal Nature.

Both patients underwent bone marrow transplants to treat blood cancers, receiving stem cells from donors with a genetic mutation present in less than one percent of Europeans that prevents HIV from taking hold.

“It is a landmark. After 10 years of not being able to replicate (the first case), people were wondering if this was a fluke,” said lead author Ravindra Gupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge.

“I think it is important to reaffirm that this is real and it can be done,” Gupta told AFP.

However, he was very careful at a press conference in Seattle, Washington, to avoid using the word “cure,” noting instead that “in another six months or two years, things will be clearer.”

Millions of people infected with HIV around the globe keep the disease in check with so-called antiretroviral therapy (ARV), but the treatment does not rid patients of the virus.

Close to 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, but only 59 percent are receiving ARV. Nearly one million people die every year from HIV-related causes.

A new drug-resistant form of HIV is also a growing concern.

The first sustained remission survivor, announced in 2009 as “the Berlin patient” and later named as American Timothy Brown, was given two transplants and underwent total body irradiation to treat leukaemia — a process that nearly killed him.

Gupta said that although a second successful transplant did not constitute a generalised cure, it showed that even milder forms of treatment can achieve full remission.

“There are a number of learning points here,” he said. “Radiation has a lot of side-effects and leads to a delayed recovery of the bone marrow, so it’s really good that we’ve shown you don’t need radiation.

“The Berlin patient also had two rounds of chemotherapy because the first one didn’t work. We’ve done ours just once, and it was also a milder form, which is important,” he added.

‘HIV is curable’

Both patients received stem cell transplants from donors carrying a genetic mutation that prevents expression of an HIV receptor, known as CCR5.

The London patient was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and had been on antiretroviral therapy since 2012.

Later that year, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly cancer.

He underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016 from a donor with two copies of a CCR5 gene variant, which is resistant to most HIV-1 virus strains.

“CCR5 is something essential for the virus to complete its life-cycle and we can’t knock out many other things without causing harm to the patient,” said Gupta.

“We know that CCR5 can be knocked out without any serious consequences because people are walking around without that gene.”

CCR5 was the target in the genome of the controversial gene-edited twins born last year in China, whose father is HIV-positive.

Experts cautiously welcomed Tuesday’s announcement.

The International AIDS Society said in a statement Tuesday that results from the second patient “reaffirm our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable”.

Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, told AFP that the second case showed a cure was “feasible”.

New communities

After the bone marrow transplant, the London patient remained on ARV for 16 months, at which point treatment was stopped.

Regular testing has confirmed that the patient’s viral load remained undetectable since then.

But scientists were keen to stress that the technique is likely only viable among a tiny percentage of sufferers.

“Due to the rarity of suitable donors, this precise approach will not be available to all HIV patients,” said Aine McKnight, professor of Viral Pathology at Queen Mary University, London.

“However, this work has the potential to stimulate research into more generally applicable therapies.”

Gupta said he hoped to expand research on the stem-cell transplant technique to focus on communities in Africa, where the HIV-beating mutation does not naturally occur.

“Expanding remission to populations that are affected disproportionately is quite important,” he told AFP.

‘London Patient’ Likely To Be Second Person Cured Of HIV

'London Patient' Likely To Be Cured Of HIV
(FILES) This file photo taken on December 1, 2010, shows an AIDS symbol displayed on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC during World AIDS Day. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

A second person is in sustained remission from HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, after ceasing treatment and is likely cured, researchers were set to announce at a medical conference Tuesday.

Ten years after the first confirmed case of an HIV-infected person being rid of the deadly disease, a man known only as the “London patient” has shown no sign of the virus for nearly 19 months, they reported in the journal Nature.

Both patients had received bone marrow transplants to treat blood cancers, receiving stem cells from donors with a rare genetic mutation that prevents HIV from taking hold.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly,” said lead author Ravindra Gupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge, referring to the first known functional cure.

Millions of people infected with HIV around the world keep the disease in check with so-called antiretroviral therapy (ARV), but the treatment does not rid patients of the virus.

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“At the moment, the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives,” said Gupta.

“This poses a particular challenge in developing countries,” where millions are still not receiving adequate treatment, he added.

Close to 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, but only 59 per cent are receiving ARV. Nearly one million people die every year from HIV-related causes.

A new drug-resistant form of HIV is also a growing concern.

Gupta and his team emphasised that bone marrow transplant — a dangerous and painful procedure — is not a viable option for HIV treatment.

But a second instance of remission and likely cure following such a transplant will help scientists narrow the range of treatment strategies, he and others said.

– ‘A cure is feasible’ –

“The second case strengthens the idea that a cure is feasible,” Sharon R Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the University of Melbourne, told AFP.

“We can try to tease out which part of the transplant might have made a difference here, and allowed this man to stop his anti-viral drugs.”

The International AIDS Society said in a statement Tuesday that results from the second patient “reaffirm our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable”.

Both the London and Berlin patients received stem cell transplants from donors carrying a genetic mutation that prevents expression of an HIV receptor, known as CCR5.

“Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly difficult because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host,” Gupta explained.

The study describes an anonymous male patient in Britain who was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and has been on antiretroviral therapy since 2012.

Later that year, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly cancer.

He underwent a so-called haematopoietic stem cell transplant in 2016 from a donor with two copies of a CCR5 gene variant, a combination carried by about one per cent of the world population.

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1.

People who have two mutated copies of CCR5 are resistant to most HIV-1 virus strains, frustrating the virus’ attempts to enter host cells.

As with cancer, chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing.

But replacing immune cells with those that do not have the CCR5 receptor appears to be key in preventing HIV from rebounding after the treatment.

After the bone marrow transplant, the London patient remained on ARV for 16 months, at which point ARV treatment was stopped.

Regular testing has confirmed that the patient’s viral load remained undetectable since then.

Timothy Brown, the “Berlin patient”, was given two transplants and underwent total body irradiation to treat leukaemia, while the British patient received just one transplant and less intensive chemotherapy.

“I did not want to be the only person in the world cured of HIV,” Brown wrote in a medical journal in 2015, explaining why he decided to reveal his identity.

The research team for the London patient will present their findings at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, Washington.

AFP

Trump’s Ambitious Plan To Eliminate HIV Welcomed By Experts

File: Donald Trump

 

President Donald Trump’s call for a bipartisan commitment to eradicate HIV in the United States within a decade has been welcomed by experts and advocacy organizations even as major challenges remain.

Addressing Congress during the annual State of the Union speech, Trump hailed what he called recent breakthroughs which “have brought a once-distant dream within reach.”

“My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.

“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond.”

The announcement was reminiscent of his predecessor George W. Bush’s announcement at the same venue in 2003 of his President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a $15 billion program considered a great success.

Though Trump’s plan doesn’t yet have a dollar figure, his Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar later added details to the president’s rhetoric: the initiative would reduce new infections by 75 per cent in the next five years and 90 per cent in the next 10, averting 250,000 cases in that span.

Such lofty ambitions would require a major acceleration of current efforts: some 38,000 people were infected with HIV in the United States in 2017, according to government statistics.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection can lead over time to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

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“We believe that it’s very much possible to end all new infections, in fact we believe it could be ended by 2025,” Jesse Milan Jr, the CEO of AIDS United, told AFP.

“This initiative, if properly implemented and resourced, can go down in history as one of the most significant achievements of his presidency,” added Michael Ruppal of the AIDS Institute.

But without a substantial budget to accompany the words, “it is a false and cruel promise,” David Holtgrave, Dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of New York added.

Known pathway

There is a broad consensus among experts that the pathway toward elimination involves boosting prevention in the most at-risk communities: gay men, blacks and Latinos and, to a lesser extent, intravenous drug users, who accounted for six per cent of cases according to the latest figures.

It will also require targeting of efforts in 48 counties, Washington, and San Juan, Puerto Rico where half of the new infections occur, according to Azar.

Prevention will involve stopping people who are currently infected from infecting others, which involves boosting access to antiretroviral medications — confirmed by studies to drastically reduce transmission rates to HIV-negative sexual partners.

This, however, would require infected patients to first know they are infected, a goal that is currently far from assured with an estimated 165,000 Americans unaware they are HIV positive.

Next, they would require access to antiretroviral therapy, a major challenge in a country where navigating the health insurance system can often be a bureaucratic nightmare and receiving even basic care is often a challenge, especially for lower income groups.

Currently, about one in two HIV-positive patients have their virus under control — with the government targeted a rate of 90 per cent.

Next comes Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis treatments (PrEP), revolutionary HIV prevention drugs meant for at-risk groups that have proven almost 100 per cent effective against infection but are greatly under-used.

Six years after their approval in the US, only 220,000 people took them in August 2018, according to prepwatch.org.

Officials estimate only 10 per cent of the 1 million Americans at substantial risk currently make use of the treatment.

Finally, condoms must once more come to the fore, according to Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who argues: “We’ve gone so totally in the direction of biomedical that we kind of wiped out any safer sex promotion.”

Two-thirds of infections occur among men having sex with men, a rate that shows no signs of slowing down. Blacks are particularly hard hit: a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found one in two gay black men will be infected by HIV in their lifetime.

Abortion Exclusion To US Aid Threatens HIV Battle, Scientists Warn

 

Scientists and activists warned Friday that anti-abortion conditions attached to US aid under the Donald Trump administration threatened programmes to halt the spread of HIV.

Stipulations approved in Washington in May last year deny US aid to organisations which provide abortion information, referrals, or services – even with their own money.

This includes grants from PEPFAR, the programme set up under former president George W Bush in 2003 and now a major funder of HIV testing, counselling and treatment worldwide.

New rules under the policy dubbed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” denies funding even to organisations that advocate for abortion services, International AIDS Society (IAS) president-elect Anton Pozniak said in Amsterdam.

Formerly known as the Mexico City policy, but commonly called the “global gag rule”, the conditions already applied to family planning clinics in the US.

“Now, under the Trump administration, it applies to almost all US global health bilateral assistance, including PEPFAR,” Pozniak told journalists on the final day of the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam.

“The reach of this policy has been greatly expanded, and has the potential to roll back progress on HIV.”

The provisions mean that clinics which provide services such as HIV testing and family planning, must rescind US funding if they also provide abortion services, counselling or even referrals.

It will be too late

Jennifer Kates of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research NGO, said the altered policy “will likely affect hundreds of recipients” of US funding.

It is too early to quantify the effects.

“Some of the greatest harms of the global gag rule will not be measurable… until it’s too late to reverse course,” said Chloe Cooney of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Clinics have already started to cut staff, some closing altogether, said Tikhala Itaye of the “Global She Decides Movement”, an activist group for women’s rights.

“Some of the girls accessing family planning services or contraception now cannot have those services,” she said.

Activists at the conference cited the global gag rule as one of many reasons for insisting that the IAS reconsiders its decision to host the next AIDS conference in San Francisco.

“No AIDS conference in Trump’s America,” said a coalition calling itself AIDS 2020 for All.

“The US government bans the entry of sex workers and people who use drugs, has criminalised immigrants and detained activists at airports, has denied HIV care to people in prison and immigrant detention centres,” it charged in a statement.

But Pozniak said the IAS was “committed to moving forward.”

“We’ve had conferences in many places of the world where there are issues,” he said.

Inconsistent Data Affecting FG’s Efforts On HIV/AIDS Control, Says Minister

Health Minister Suspends Eight Top NHIS Officials
File Photo

 

The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, says inaccurate data of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria has negatively impacted on Federal Government’s efforts to control the spread of the disease in the country.

The minister made the observation at the signing of a 20 million dollars funding, for the Nigeria HIV/AIDS indicator and impact assessment survey.

The minister, however, expressed confidence that the new deal will assist the government in planning its approaches to eliminating HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

He noted that an accurate survey will be carried across the 36 states of the federation with a view to ascertain the actual number of people living with the disease.

The survey is also expected to eliminate the huge barrier to planning which includes the lack of accurate data; hence the U.S government needs the support of all for the survey to succeed.

In 2015, the National Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (NACA) estimated HIV prevalence in Nigeria at 3.03 million. The agency also reported a drop in new infections rate from 130, 295 in 2010 to 104, 388 in 2015.

These figures, however, have become obsolete for effective planning.

Accurate data is arguably crucial for effective planning and distribution of resources to combat the spread of the disease and with the signing of this agreement, it is hoped that the Nigeria Government will have reliable data to plan, going forward.

Police Arrest ‘Fake’ Doctor Accused Of Infecting 46 Indians With HIV

FILE PHOTO: Indian villagers and relatives mourns as they gather around the coffin of killed Indian army soldier Havaldar Roshan Lal at Nichla village, in Samba district, about 45km from Jammu, on February 5, 2018. PHOTO: Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP

Indian Police on Wednesday arrested an unlicensed doctor accused of infecting at least 46 people with HIV by re-using a syringe, the latest case to expose the paucity of healthcare in the country of 1.25 billion.

Police in Uttar Pradesh tracked down Rajendra Yadav, who provided cheap door-to-door medical services to poor villagers, after a filing a criminal case against him over the spread of the infection in the northern state’s Unnao district.

“He was arrested on a tip-off and is being questioned about his role in the case,” Unnao police chief Pushpanjali Devi told AFP.

Yadav is facing initial criminal charges of impersonation and endangering human lives, the officer said.

Medical instruments were recovered from his possession are being sent for forensic tests.

India has only limited public healthcare services and that, combined with a lack of regulation, has allowed unlicensed doctors to thrive, particularly in rural areas.

The latest case was exposed when government medical screenings uncovered a high concentration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the district.

“All these 46 cases are from specific localities within our district,” Unnao’s chief medical officer S.P. Choudhary told AFP.

“This is when we decided to dig deeper. Some of the infected blamed the quack and his use of a single syringe.”

But Choudhary said the high number of cases was unlikely to be down to Yadav alone.

“We don’t think that the quack doctor alone could be a factor for these numbers,” he told AFP.

“The area has a high migrant trucker population, and the prevalence of unprotected sex could be the likely reason.”

India has 2.1 million people infected with HIV, according to the United Nations, although the rate of infection is falling.

It has an estimated 840,000 doctors — one for every 1,674 people — far fewer than the one per 1,000 people recommended by the World Health Organization.

Last week the government announced a national healthcare scheme for half a billion people but did not give details of how much it would cost or how it would be funded.

India spends a little over one percent of GDP on public healthcare — one of the lowest proportions in the world — a sum the government is aiming to increase to 2.5 percent by 2025.

AFP

Campaigners Incensed At Failings In Africa AIDS War

Angry AIDS activists are urging western and central Africa to step up the fight against HIV, saying millions of people, especially children, are at risk from complacency and underfunding.

A six-day conference in Africa has thrown a stark light on the problems in a region whose two dozen nations extend from Mauritania in the north to Gabon in the south, and include some of the poorest countries in the world.

Coalition Plus, an alliance of AIDS groups, said AIDS-related deaths in western and central Africa are running at 5.1 percent, more than twice the 2.1 percent in the rest of the continent.

The region accounts for just six percent of the global population, but has at least 16 percent of the total of the world’s adults — categorised as people aged over 15 — who live with HIV.

The share rises even more dramatically, to 25 percent, in the category of infected children aged from birth up to 14 years.

Even though the HIV pandemic is more than four decades old, nearly 80 percent of the estimated 540,000 infected children in West and Central Africa are not getting life-saving antiretroviral therapy, the UN’s children’s agency UNICEF and AIDS programme UNAIDS said on Tuesday.

“HIV and AIDS pose direct threats to the lives of 820,000 children and adolescents,” they said in a report issued at the ICASA conference which ends on Saturday. “Yet we know what works.”

– ‘Scandalous’ rise in youth mortality –

In 2016, an estimated 60,000 children were newly infected with HIV in West and Central Africa, it said.

Among adolescents aged 15-19, AIDS-related deaths are on the rise. Among the 10-19 age group, 16,000 people died last year, a rise of 35 percent over 2010.

“The rise in youth mortality is a scandal,” Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s director for West and Central Africa, told AFP.

“Most of these teenagers are unaware of their HIV status,” she said.

“Everyone is responsible. Support from international donors is insufficient for the region’s needs. And governments must give priority to the fight against AIDS, even if they have limited resources,” she said.

The situation is not entirely bleak — the region slashed mother-to-child transmission of HIV by a third from 2010 and 2016 — nor is it the same everywhere.

– 1.3 million awaiting treatment –

Adult HIV prevalence ranges from less than 0.4 percent in Niger to 6.2 percent in Equatorial Guinea, the figures show. Nearly half of all infected children in the region are in Nigeria.

But the major problems are common, say experts.

One is the lack of so-called point-of-care HIV tests, so that a patient can be diagnosed and immediately treated — a major step in prevention.

Another is availability of antiretroviral drugs, which suppress the virus but do not eliminate it.

The cost of AIDS therapy has plummeted since the first triple-therapy drug regimen became available in 1996, and access to the lifeline — taken in a simple once-a-day pill — is spreading across parts of Africa.

In West and Central Africa, though, 1.3 million people who know they have HIV are still awaiting treatment.

Stigma and discrimination, as well as homophobia, are factors that help the virus to spread underground.

“We have to shift up gears, to that of ’emergency response,’ we have to mobilise all of society — government, civil society, families,” said Poirier.

AFP

Smokers With HIV Far More Likely To Die Of Lung Cancer – Researchers

People who are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and smokes are far more likely to die from lung cancer than HIV, researchers said Monday.

“Having HIV and using tobacco may together accelerate the development of lung cancer,” warned the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.

Smoking reduces life expectancy among people living with HIV — and undergoing antiretroviral therapy to keep their disease at bay, more than HIV itself, it added.

The findings are of particular concern because smoking is so common among people with HIV.

The prevalence of smokers among the population of people with HIV is 40 percent, about twice the rest of the United States population.

“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Smoking rates are extraordinarily high among people with HIV, and both smoking and HIV increase the risk of lung cancer.”

Almost 25 percent of people who adhere well to anti-HIV medications but continue to smoke will die from lung cancer, said the findings.

People with HIV who take antiviral drugs and also smoke are from six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, it added.

But there is hope for those who manage to quit.

Among smokers who quit at age 40, only about six percent will die of lung cancer, according to the study, which is based on projections using a computer model.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” said co-author Travis Baggett, also of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Nearly 60,000 of the 644,2000 people aged 20-64 living with HIV and receiving care are expected to die from lung cancer by age 80 if smoking habits do not change.

AFP

Ignorance, Fears Hinder Fight Against HIV – Edo SACA

Ignorance, Fears Hinder Fight Against HIV - Edo SACAThe Edo State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA) has said that being tested positive for the Human Immune Virus (HIV) is not a death sentence.

The Project Manager of Edo SACA, Mrs Marietu Binkola, stated this at an event to mark the 2017 National HIV Testing Day in Benin City, the Edo State capital.

She identified ignorance and fears as some of the major factors hampering the fight against the disease across Nigeria.

“The only issue here is how members of the public can know that testing positive for the disease is not a death sentence; that one can still live a long and fulfilled life and that testing negative is not also a license to engage in anyhow lifestyle,” Binkola said.

She stressed further that although HIV does not have any known cure yet, increased awareness and voluntary tests by members of the public could drastically reduce the spread of the disease and the number of deaths resulting from it.

On his part, the National Coordinator of Civil Society against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Bright Oniovokukor said lack of adequate data was a major challenge to monitoring the fight against the spread of the disease.

“Data remains a challenge and it is so because many people are not coming out to know their status voluntarily. More so, there are villages across the country that lack access to health facilities; how can you generate data from such areas? he asked.