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Experts Claim HIV Patients Made Non-Infectious 394

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the shot-in-the-arm dept.
Misanthrope writes to tell us that Swiss scientists are claiming that with proper treatment HIV patients can be made non-infectious. "The statement's headline statement says that 'after review of the medical literature and extensive discussion,' the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV / AIDS resolves that, 'An HIV-infected person on antiretroviral therapy with completely suppressed viraemia ("effective ART") is not sexually infectious, i.e. cannot transmit HIV through sexual contact.'"
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Experts Claim HIV Patients Made Non-Infectious

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  • Re:AIDS free world (Score:4, Informative)

    by _merlin (160982) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:47PM (#22300100) Homepage Journal
    Well the major infection vector for AIDS is sex. In Africa, it's primarily heterosexual sex; in Australia it's primarily homosexual sex; in Vietnam it's primarily heterosexual sex. Either way, AIDS is primarily spread by people having sex. Drug addicts and dirty needles is just a tiny blip on the radar for AIDS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:53PM (#22300172)

    I can remember also that newspaper were promoting Ecstasy as a new social drug with no side effects,
    With moderation it's not overly harmful.

    marijuana as a healthy habit,
    The smoke is bad, but if you vaporize it or eat it it's not unhealthy...

    How would life be if the world smoked weed?
    Guaranteed there'd be peace not greed, ...
    Legalize the plant only time will tell,

  • Re:Encouraging news (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:57PM (#22300210)
    Actually, having worked in third world medical aid I can say categorically that there is a benefit to the patients receiving these drugs. So it's win win for the people taking the drugs (their quality of life is improved, they live longer) and the community.

    Aids is no longer the death sentence it once was. It's like diabetes, if left untreated it is fatal but it can be treated successfully. If they can just eliminate the transmission aspect, then this scourge will be gone in a few generations.
  • Re:Small pox? (Score:4, Informative)

    by CatPieMan (460995) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:57PM (#22300224)
    Small Pox was eradicated due primarily to an immunization effort that spanned the 19th and 20th centuries. Unlike HIV (as far as I am aware), there are two viruses that appear to the human immune system as the same. One causes small pox, the other causes Cow Pox. Essentially, the immunization to small pox is to expose a person to cow pox. They get a feaver for a couple days to a week (along the lines of Chicken Pox), but then become immune to Small Pox.

    With the Small Pox vaccine, once exposed to the alternative, you become immune to Small Pox. HIV is the opposite, once you are exposed, it will kill you.

    As bad as it was, Small Pox was a 20-60% mortality rate (see wikipedia), which is horrible, but there was a chance. HIV is a 100% mortality rate, it just takes a bit longer. If we could find a way to create immunity from HIV, it would die out.

    Most of the treatments for HIV simply extend the person's life, probably with the hope that they live long enough to find a cure. The drugs are not pleasant, and often make the person ill while trying to swallow them.

    I too am too young to really appreciate not having to worry about Small Pox. I'm not even sure I was given the shot, as I was born after it was declared eradicated (1979).
  • by DrYak (748999) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:10PM (#22300364) Homepage

    They only talk about sex.
    Because in Switzerland, that's the main mode of transmission by which people may catch AIDS.

    How about drug addicts and dirty needles?
    There have been extensive efforts against dirty needles. Drug addicts can easily have access to "Kits" that contain proper sterile equipment (syringes, spoons, citrate, alcohol to clean the injection site, etc). They can either buy it cheaply from pharmacies or receive it for free from some organisation. Such efforts have drastically reduced the occurrence of syringe sharing and help drop the HIV transmission rates.
    I think TFA concentrates on sexual transmission because dirty needles have really become rarer in Switzerland, and thus play a less significant role in the AIDS transmission compared to before the introduction of these efforts (or compared to other countries where such efforts don't exist).
  • Re:Small pox? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chancey (1095381) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:16PM (#22300462)

    Unfortunately this does not parallel the smallpox eradication... smallpox was a very unique case as far as human diseases go. First, smallpox was eradicated through the use of vaccines (first produced over 200 years ago [wikipedia.org]), which require only one exposure to prevent a person from getting infected. There were also numerous efforts to eradicate smallpox spanning almost 150 years, and culminating in the massive, coordinated effort from the WHO (World Health Organization, not the band) to eliminate smallpox from Africa and India in the 60s-70s.

    To similarly eliminate HIV we would either need a similar vaccine, or to force every single HIV patient in the world (estimated 33-46 million) to adhere to a complicated anti-retroviral therapy for the remainder of their lives.

    The situation for HIV better parallels tuberculosis, which can be effectively cured by common (and relatively inexpensive) antibiotics, but remains prevalent because the treatment regimen is quite long and requires strict patient compliance.

    Also, since smallpox was eradicated by a very well studied vaccine, there was no patent holder to collect royalties...

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anti_Climax (447121) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:49PM (#22300884)
    I've been trying to find a copy of the article for a while, but I seem to remember someone publishing a write up about "Curing" HIV with anti-retroviral therapy.

    Essentially it went like this: By *religiously* adhering to a multi-drug cocktail treatment (3-4 drugs targeting different portions of the viral replication cycle) over the course of 3-4 years the free virus particles would be filtered out of the body by the lymph nodes and T-Cells at varying stages of infection would be broken down, leaving a person HIV free. They would still test as HIV positive as they would still have the antibodies in their bloodstream, but they would no longer be infectious or subject to relapse.

    Obviously starting treatment when still healthy would be preferable, like Magic Johnson did. He was diagnosed with HIV about 3 years after my Father was. Magic Johnson is still alive and healthy 16 years later, but my dad died almost 15 years ago.

    There was also a "Morning After" treatment that showed promise for preventing infection after likely exposure to HIV. It was an 8 week course of drugs similar to chemotherapy but, if completed, had a significant success at preventing infection.

    It's good to see they're still working toward these ends, hopefully they can stop it fairly soon.
  • by Lunzo (1065904) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:53PM (#22300940)
    It's cheap, small, easily mass-produced, easy to use, 100% effective... It's called a CONDOM.

    How I wish the various religious groups and governments would endorse proper sex education and provision of a plentiful supply of condoms, instead of pushing the abstinence only bulls---, which has completely failed.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Informative)

    by rjhubs (929158) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:56PM (#22300974)
    condoms break.
  • Re:Encouraging news (Score:3, Informative)

    by shihonage (731699) on Monday February 04, 2008 @09:10PM (#22301134)
    Actually, around 47% of all people diagnosed with AIDS were infected with HIV through male-to-male sexual contact, while people exposed through heterosexual contact comprise around 17% of the total. Male-to-male sexual contact probably caused the majority (66%) of infections in white people living with AIDS. It's not "faith", it's "fact". When political correctness stands in the way of science it becomes a disease in itself. A mental one.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Informative)

    by madbrain (11432) on Monday February 04, 2008 @09:21PM (#22301234) Homepage
    Why was this moderated troll ? Just because the moderator doesn't have sex often enough to have statistically experienced or witnessed this ? Oh, I forgot this is slashdot.

    Newsflash, condoms do break occasionally. They also slip.
    The below study shows a 2% rate of failure per condom, and 2.7% per person.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8070546 [nih.gov]
  • Re:Old News (Score:3, Informative)

    by krotkruton (967718) on Monday February 04, 2008 @10:47PM (#22301968)
    Sorry, but it's been over 22.3 years since the AIDs epidemic started, so it's acceptable to make fun of it [wikipedia.org]. Just ask Jared.
  • Re:Encouraging news (Score:4, Informative)

    by gordo3000 (785698) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @01:11AM (#22303108)
    Aids is a death sentence. you just have to pick your time horizon. people who have been on antiretrovirals for 15 years are now feeling the effects of basically putting a poison in your body daily for so long. they have severe medical problems that are very expensive to treat and find themselves unable to function. 40 year olds look like they are 65 and have health problems on a similar scale. it's just when you die of kidney failure at 45 have 18 years on the drugs, we don't say AIDS killed you, but that is hiding the issue that still exists.
  • Re:Encouraging news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Maria D (264552) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @01:43AM (#22303330) Homepage
    We have a running joke in my family, "Never go to doctors until you know your diagnosis and have researched the treatments." If you look at statistics of how many people die to medical mistakes per year, it's quite scary. I have many anecdotes about my family members dying, or almost dying, to easily avoidable medical mistakes or just laziness of diagnostics. And other cases where doctors were just greedy ("business-like"? hmmm).

    My kid goes to doctors less than once a year, and still she accumulated a few ridiculous examples. Once a doctor was strongly pressing for a surgery - and when we equally strongly asked for alternatives, and she explained that yes, we could try a course of antibiotics, but "it will take the whole three or four days, and we could do the surgery today." I could almost see the dollar signs in her eyes. A dentist wanted to do some major procedures under general anesthesia - luckily, we knew that baby teeth should soon fall out and they just started to deteriorate before falling out (like they often do), so we saved the kid the general anesthesia and us several thousand dollars - the teeth fell out within a few months and the next visit to (another) dentist there were no problems. I went to a neurologist with some headaches, and she told me that, first, she gets headaches more often than I do (relevant!) and second, she can prescribe a brain scan (MRI I think) as a helpful treatment (!!!) because it's all in my mind, so once I do an MRI and know it's clear, the headaches will go away. It turned out I had a vision problem and the eye strain was causing headaches, which I figured out later, no thanks to her. I can keep telling these amusing stories all night. The point is that doctors make a lot of mistakes, and some of them just aren't trying (that guy reading his e-mail while "listening" to me describing symptoms? yeah) and those who are trying are limited in their knowledge and skills, just like the rest of us.
  • Re:Small pox? (Score:5, Informative)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @02:15AM (#22303536) Homepage Journal
    Wow. So much misinformation in one post.

    How can someone think a rate is 20-60%? That's one to three out of five. It doesn't make any sense. Of course, the source you cite is Wikipedia, which you should know better than, except of course that it says 30-35%, not 20-60% like you claim; at that point it's probably more of a question of measurement differences or other fundamental quality of standard measurements between sample populations.

    Smallpox was still active in the 1960s; why you think it was "eradicated in an effort that spanned the 19th and 20th centuries" is beyond me. Maybe you're misreading the "after successful vaccination campaigns" bit in the wikipedia article; this is one of many reasons why reading an encyclopedia article does not match actual knowledge, since what they're talking about are local, single-city eradications. The actual global eradication effort was begun in the early 1950s by PAHO, which Wikipedia incorrectly cites as 1950 (it started in 1952.) The bulk of Smallpox was driven out of the states around the turn of this century, but the last known US case of non-weaponized Smallpox outbreak was in New York State in 1947, and there were isolated rural cases as late as 1965. The actual eradication wasn't certified by WHO until 1980; cases were found in nature in southern Africa until 1977.

    Incidentally, HIV, like Vareola, doesn't have a mortality rate; it's syndromes like AIDS and Smallpox, not diseases like HIV and Vareola, which have mortality rates. If you understood disease you'd know this. Many people with HIV never develop AIDS at all, and live healthy lives until they die from a car accident or cancer or a bolt of lightning or bad heroin or getting mugged. Now, mortality rates aren't just percentages; they're rates. That's why the correct way to say it is "Smallpox has a thirty eight percent chance of mortality per week." This makes a big difference, but what makes a bigger difference is that AIDS itself doesn't actually cause death. Associated infection does. The AIDS mortality rate is ZERO.

    Why does that matter? Because when you start knowing what you're talking about, you find out that the AIDS associated disease mortality rate is widely different between economic, ethnic and social groups. Why? Because that's not one hundred percent either. Hell, there are two known people who have sero-converted so far (meaning their immune system fought back and won, and they're not even carriers anymore.) We have no idea how they did it, but they did. About five percent of people with HIV do not develop AIDS by the twenty year mark, and show no symptoms whatsoever. The median time between infection and symptoms even displaying is now over ten years. There are known human mutations that create HIV resistance, such as CCR5 delta 32.

    You're just rambling about shit you heard. Get off the soapbox. You're full of crap. No disease has a 100 percent mortality rate over any time frame. You're not even measuring using the right kind of units. The AIDS associated opportunistic infection mortality rate in the United States has been 2.21 per 100 per year since 1998, as accepted by the AMA, the WHO and the CDC.

    Two point two percent per year. One hundred? Go read a book, kid, you're lying through your teeth.
  • Re:Encouraging news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wdomburg (141264) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @10:30AM (#22306174)
    Very few people in any field are competent and even those that are can make mistakes or have gaps in their knowledge.

    A few years ago my wife was suffering from recurring miscarriages, so we got a consult with a reproductive endocrinologist. His insightful conclusion? That she was ovulating. Yeah, great detective work there. Anovulatory women aren't a particularly high risk group for miscarriages.

    When we finally did retain a successful pregnancy, it was off to the perinatologist. Twin pregnancy on top of all the other risk factors, suspected monoamniotic as well. The highly recommended, highly respected doctor quoted morbidity rates that were about twenty years out of date and outlined a care plan that included none of the intensive monitoring recommended by contemporary studies. When we offered several articles from credible medical journals, she dismissed it with "I don't have time to read something you found on the internet."

    Thankfully we found a doctor who didn't dismiss her patients so easily (and actually did research of her own to make sure she was abreast of new information when faced with less common conditions.)

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