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Essay The United States' commitment to helping treat HIV patients is limiting Washington's leverage over recipient countries and undermining other development goals. (Photo: hiyori13 / flickr.)
Here’s the seventh piece from my new BBC column For around 30 years we have lived under the spectre of HIV. In the early 1980s, the mysterious appearance of symptoms that would later be known as AIDS led to unprecedented efforts to unmask the cause. On 23 April 1984, Margaret Heckler, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, told the world that scientists had identified the virus that was the probable cause of AIDS.
Breast milk is starting to look like a potent HIV-fighter. 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.
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. 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.
As to the why, here is where the story gets even more fascinating, and terrible. We typically think of diseases in terms of how they threaten us personally. But they have their own stories. Diseases are born. They grow.
There is a lot of optimism now in the community of public-health officials and advocates who work on AIDS . 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.
A child receives oral polio vaccine drops in Patna district, India. (Gates Foundation / flickr) In January, India marked an incredible achievement: one year since the country's last reported case of polio. That is cause for celebration -- not just in India but around the world.
Health :: Feature Articles :: April 16, 2012 :: :: Email :: Print See Inside While the superpowers were busy threatening to destroy each other with nuclear weapons, Albert B. Sabin turned to a surprising ally to test his new oral polio vaccine—a Soviet scientist By William Swanson
Health :: Feature Articles :: May 14, 2012 :: :: Email :: Print See Inside As the number of cases of the paralytic disease fall, world health officials have to grapple with a vexing problem: a component of the most widely used polio vaccine now causes more disease than the virus it is supposed to fight
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. Meanwhile, in far-off Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency in its decades-long battle to eradicate polio. That these two events are intimately connected speaks volumes about new challenges -- political ones -- that threaten to undermine extraordinary global health achievements. A tribal court in Peshawar sentenced Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years' imprisonment for treason -- a penalty considered mild given that the nontribal Pakistani government courts would have ordered death by hanging for the same alleged crime.
Robert Daum has shown that MRSA is not confined to hospitals — and is determined to find a vaccine that will fight the bacterium. Over the years, Robert Daum has learned to respect his adversary. In 1995, he and his co-workers at the University of Chicago children's hospital in Illinois were investigating infections that had affected two dozen children in their emergency department. Three children had fast-moving pneumonia.
It all happens in a femtosecond – a quadrillionth of a second. 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.
<img alt="Photo: Stan Musilek" src="/wiredscience/wp-content/gallery/20-04/ff_antivirals_f.jpg" title="Feature" width="660"/> 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.
Theodore Nash sees only a few dozen patients a year in his clinic at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. That’s pretty small as medical practices go, but what his patients lack in number they make up for in the intensity of their symptoms. Some fall into comas.
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.