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Infectious Diseases

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Transitioning to an AIDS-Free Generation. There was much to celebrate on World AIDS Day last week.

Transitioning to an AIDS-Free Generation

Over the last decade, an unprecedented surge in donor support for HIV/AIDS treatment has lengthened and improved the lives of millions of people living with the disease. The number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment worldwide stands at more than six million in 2011, a 16-fold increase since 2003. Will we ever have an HIV vaccine? Breast milk seems to kill HIV - health - 15 June 2012. Breast milk is starting to look like a potent HIV-fighter.

Breast milk seems to kill HIV - health - 15 June 2012

An unknown component of breast milk appears to kill HIV particles and virus-infected cells, as well as blocking HIV transmission in mice with a human immune system. Even if babies born to HIV-positive mothers avoid infection during birth, around 15 per cent contract HIV in early childhood. Facebook: The next tool in fighting STDs. Imagine being able to download a Facebook app that would alert you to your sexually transmitted infection risk based on your friend’s status updates.

Facebook: The next tool in fighting STDs

This may sound far-fetched, and it still is, but as some researchers shift their focus to risk among friend groups, as opposed to just sexual partners, social networks are rapidly becoming a tool to prevent the spread of STIs. Peter Leone, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina’s Center for Infectious Diseases, is one of those experts. Earlier this month, he spoke at an international health conference and underscored the importance of exploring such possibilities. Timeline: A Few Landmarks In the Effort to Treat AIDS. Colonialism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago. As to the why, here is where the story gets even more fascinating, and terrible.

Colonialism in Africa helped launch the HIV epidemic a century ago

News Desk: The Changing AIDS Epidemic—and What to Do Next. There is a lot of optimism now in the community of public-health officials and advocates who work on AIDS.

News Desk: The Changing AIDS Epidemic—and What to Do Next

People are being treated with more effective medicine in more places and in greater numbers around the world than many ever thought possible. The world is getting smarter about outsmarting the AIDS virus. But, even as we know more, there are still disputes about how best to move forward on both prevention and treatment. Such is the nature of AIDS, especially as it involves an attempt to understand the complexity of human behavior as it relates to sex. Seventeen years ago, when I was on President Clinton’s staff, helping to organize the White House Conference on AIDS, it was still seen as a disease which largely impacted gay men in the United States. India's Polio Win. In January, India marked an incredible achievement: one year since the country's last reported case of polio.

India's Polio Win

That is cause for celebration -- not just in India but around the world. Twenty years ago, there were more than 100 polio-endemic countries; now, only three remain. Such a victory over polio seemed almost impossible just a decade ago. India's tropical climate is conducive to the survival and spread of the disease. Meanwhile, India's dense, ethnically and linguistically diverse population made it difficult for the government to reach its most at-risk citizens. Revealed: How Cold War Scientists Joined Forces to Conquer Polio. To many Americans, the cold war is ancient history.

Revealed: How Cold War Scientists Joined Forces to Conquer Polio

Yet only a few decades ago the planet was dangerously divided between West and East, and the antagonism between the U.S. and the Soviet Union defined global politics. Flare-ups such as the Korean “police action,” which killed millions of people in the early 1950s, and the Cuban missile crisis, 10 years later, drew the American and Soviet governments and their proxies to the threshold of nuclear war. Milestones in the Effort to Eradicate Polio [Timeline]

Polio's Last Act. The shadows lengthen in a guesthouse cafeteria on the sprawling campus of christian Medical College, Vellore, in India.

Polio's Last Act

Wrapped up as he is in an issue that has possessed him for years, T. Jacob John notices neither the dying light nor the gathering mosquitoes. Losing Polio - By Laurie Garrett. Last week, a Pakistani doctor was sentenced by his government to three decades in prison for actions that helped the United States kill Osama bin Laden.

Losing Polio - By Laurie Garrett

Vaccine development: Man vs MRSA. Superfast drugs target shape-shifting enzymes - health - 13 March 2012. It all happens in a femtosecond – a quadrillionth of a second.

Superfast drugs target shape-shifting enzymes - health - 13 March 2012

That's the time an enzyme needs to shape-shift into its most reactive form, trigger a chemical reaction and snap back into its original shape. We can now enter this high-speed world to interrupt the chemical reactions that sustain some of our deadliest pathogens and cause disease. Doing so could lead to antibiotics that won't trigger bacterial resistance. Should Science Pull the Trigger on Antiviral Drugs—That Can Blast the Common Cold?

The models of influenza, Ebola, and HIV viruses in this article were printed in 3-D and then destroyed. Orthomyxoviridae (influenza)Photo: Stan Musilek There’s a moment in the history of medicine that’s so cinematic it’s a wonder no one has put it in a Hollywood film. Hidden Epidemic: 
Tapeworms Living Inside People's Brains. As Diseases Make Comeback, Why Aren't All Kids Vaccinated? Progress is easy to take for granted. When I was a child in the '60s, polio was history, measles was on the way out, and diphtheria and whooping cough were maladies out of old movies. Now these contagious diseases are making a comeback. Take measles, for instance. The disease used to infect 3 to 4 million Americans per year, hospitalizing nearly 50,000 people and causing 400 to 500 deaths.

In 2000 a panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed that measles transmission had been eradicated in the United States, except for imported cases. Malaria may kill far more people than we thought - health - 03 February 2012. Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads, Scientists Hunt Down Genetic Causes. Lyme Disease Pushes Northwards. Lyme disease may surge this year in the northeastern United States and is already spreading into Canada from a confluence of factors including acorns, mice and the climate.The illness is transmitted from mice and deer to humans via bites from the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, usually in forested areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States.

Ninety-four percent of cases have been concentrated along the Eastern Seaboard and in Wisconsin and Minnesota. There were more than 20,000 confirmed cases in the United States in 2010, according to the most recent data available. But now the disease is spreading in unprecedented ways, and public health officials from the United States and Canada are investigating methods to anticipate where it will spring up next. 'Untreatable' gonorrhoea joins the infectious bogeymen - opinion - 08 March 2012. Antibiotic-resistant NDM-1 Is Undermining India's Medical Sector. Don't let up in war against antibiotic resistance - health - 30 April 2012. Return of the Clap. WHO demands action on drug-resistant gonorrhoea - health - 12 June 2012. Gonorrhoea, a sexually transmitted infection also known as "the clap", is making a comeback – and this time it may be incurable. New strains have emerged that resist the last few antibiotics that still worked against the disease. Cave Bacteria Finding Suggests Ancient Origins of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs.

Antibiotic Fails Sinus Infection Test. Anyone who has felt the pressure of a weeklong sinus infection won’t be happy to hear it, but a study finds that a commonly prescribed medicine doesn’t clear up such attacks any better than the body does on its own. The findings, in the Feb. 15 Journal of the American Medical Association, don’t apply to people who have chronic sinus infections lasting 28 days or more. But people with trademark signs of an acute sinus infection — yucky drainage, facial pressure, sore teeth, congestion and headache for a full week — overall fared no better with antibiotics than did people getting inert pills, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis report. “This struck me as a very well-designed, -conducted and -analyzed study,” says James Hughes, an infectious disease physician at Emory University in Atlanta.

Mutant protein may allow flu to kill - health - 26 March 2012. Fears over incurable TB deepen after retesting - health - 10 May 2012. Researcher death highlights dangers of pathogen work - health - 09 May 2012.