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Medicine Science

Experts Claim HIV Patients Made Non-Infectious 394

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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  • Encouraging news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:12PM (#22299592) Homepage Journal
    One can only hope that the treatments can be made available at a decent price, so that the folks who are most likely to pass it on--poor people who don't know how to use contraception and the like--will be able to be treated.

    Unlikely, though, I dare say...those drug companies do love their income.
  • AIDS free world (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qmaqdk ( 522323 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:15PM (#22299636)
    If this is true, then it effectively means that the world can be AIDS free in a generation. I'm willing to bet it's not going to happen, though. The drug companies have no interest in this.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:15PM (#22299654) Journal
    Can you imagine the shitstorm that would ensue if they're wrong? It takes a whole lot of balls to not just put your reputation on the line like this, but the lives of thousands of people too. I really hope they're right.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:16PM (#22299664) Homepage
    but it does make life possible for those around you.

    I sucks but its a step in the right direction. (But will any company take the next step; after all, once YOU're dead, the disease is eradicated.)

    Sucks to think like an actuary...
  • Re:AIDS free world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dvice_null ( 981029 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:19PM (#22299724)
    They only talk about sex. How about drug addicts and dirty needles?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:20PM (#22299740)
    I've got some shocking news for you: even if you don't get HIV, you're going to die
  • by Malevolent Tester ( 1201209 ) * on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:20PM (#22299748) Journal
    Given that the same high risk behaviour that spreads HIV also spreads other STDs, I can't see this will actually help much.
  • by thePsychologist ( 1062886 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:21PM (#22299762) Journal
    It's in the article but non-infectious here does not mean it's impossible for HIV transmission during sex. It's only improbable and of course the probability of transfer is unknown - as even in the studies done with these drugs other protection measures were used (of course). Furthermore this is not new; rather it's a statement made by a few experts based on older research. The statement is meant to be a standard taken throughout the healthcare world.
  • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:24PM (#22299806) Homepage Journal
    Not all people who contract AIDS are engaging (voluntarily, anyway) in high-risk behavior.

    Also, treating STDs would provide opportunity for conversion of high-risk behaviors into lower-risk behaviors, e.g. you're in the office anyway, why not have a little talk about safe sex while you're there?

    Hence, treating the other (usually more obvious) STDs would presumably impact the treatment of AIDS for a number of reasons--counselling, earlier detection, and possible reduction of the viral load to a less-dangerous level.
  • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:32PM (#22299900) Homepage Journal
    You're asking people other than you to change their behavior based on your principles?

    If you can figure out how to accomplish that reliably, then every government, armed service, advertising agency, and school wants to speak with you right now.
  • Re:AIDS free world (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:38PM (#22299986) Journal
    We've had a cure for tuberculosis for quite some time as well as polio, yet they are still around. TB still kills many people and has become drug resistant, because people don't take their meds on a regular schedule. If you don't take your aids medicine on time ( a more complex drug regimen), you will still be infectious. But none of that is particularly new. The new aspect is that they say that its not contagious when you have been on the regimen for a while.

    Now, the optimistic among us would have hopped that those on drug regimen knew they could spread the disease and modify their behavior accordingly. So this announcement should actually have little affect. If you were doing what the doctors told you to do, you weren't spreading the disease same as before. Maybe this would act as a motivation for some people? But it also might cause people to engage in riskier behavior and compound the issue.
  • by r_jensen11 ( 598210 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:38PM (#22299990)
    Is it just sexually? What about blood transfusions? What about sharing needles?

    AIDS is spreading rapidly in different parts of the world by different means. In Africa and India/Asia, it's spreading because of unprotected sex. In eastern Europe and Russia, it's being spread predominately from dirty needles used for drugs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:38PM (#22299994)
    It is your duty as modern enlightened people to downmod whoever mentions "abstinence" as a response to sexually transmitted infections.
  • by TehDuffman ( 987864 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:43PM (#22300054) Journal

    Is abstinence really that difficult?
  • by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:43PM (#22300064)
    well its obviously not currently working, so i think thats why they're still trying to find a cure/preventative.
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:52PM (#22300158)
    Is abstinence really that difficult?

    You want the average human to stop doing what evolution has spent 300 million years programming them to do? Its kind of like asking bears to not eat trout. Its what they do!
  • Re:Small pox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fabs64 ( 657132 ) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Monday February 04, 2008 @07:53PM (#22300174)
    Smallpox? You kidding me? The eradication of smallpox was a time of big governments, big non-profits, and a concerted effort for the greater good not for profit.

    Also, back in the late 1700s, someone couldn't patent a scab off of a cows back.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:00PM (#22300254)
    Part of the problem is that often the patient DOES know better than the doctor. I can honestly say that I have not had a doctor do, or say anything to me that I did not already know since I was about 10 years old. I have on the other hand had doctors tell me things that were simply wrong. I'm sure there are some good doctors out there, but the nature of our medical industry leaves most of us diagnosing our own illness. Not out of hubris, but out of necessity.
  • Re:Old News (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:12PM (#22300386)
    Everything is funny. Some things just aren't funny to you.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:12PM (#22300392) Journal
    You're asking people other than you to change their behavior based on your principles?

    I'd venture to guess that not having sex if you are infected with AIDS is a pretty universal principle, much in the same way that murder is universally frowned upon.

  • Re:Small pox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) * on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:14PM (#22300426) Homepage

    Also, back in the late 1700s, someone couldn't patent a scab off of a cows back.
    Plus you could test treatments on orphans without the risk of being sued.
  • Re:AIDS free world (Score:3, Insightful)

    by matt me ( 850665 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:15PM (#22300446)
    Know anyone with smallpox?
  • Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:22PM (#22300516)
    the CDC [].
  • by nonsequitor ( 893813 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:23PM (#22300528)
    Wow, thats right up there with putting the infected into concentration camps. Your trolling needs work, it has to be believable that you personally hold that opinion to elicit the shrill responses a good troll will get.

    My point above was that this is not viable for mass treatment and will only be available to the privileged elite like Magic Johnson. Though you are technically correct about the effectiveness of your method, you've raised a fundamental ethics question: Is saving the species from disease worth it at the cost of our humanity?

    This is fundamental to the ethical debate behind many emerging technologies like embrionic stem cell research, where the answer is unclear to many. However, I think its safe to say that compulsory mutilation has a lot less grey area.
  • by tezbobobo ( 879983 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @08:23PM (#22300542) Homepage Journal
    You may have read the article but your missing some pieces of the puzzle. The people who catch and spread aids via condom misuse are those who do not care in the 'heat of the moment'. Birth control pills don't enter the equation because they have nothing to do with the spread of Aids, except perhaps to persuade those who do not have them to use a little more abstinence.

    The best way to deliver these drugs would be to use a system similar to implanon if available, whereby any drug are implanted subdermally and released slowly. The benefit is that by having a steady stream lower doses can be used. Secondly, governments are constantly comparing the future costs of care for incapacitated aids patients to current treatment cost. When a sufficiently effective solution presents itself - if the cost benefit is good - governments *will* pay for it.
  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @09:02PM (#22301054)
    Really? So, explain to me what happened to the the test to check for Chicken Pox that seemed to disappear between the time that one doctor told my wife that there was no test to see if a child had chicken pox, and the time that a second doctor schedule the test at the lab. Given that I have had many people express that they have had the same kinds of experience with doctors telling them things that are incorrect, your qualifier of 'competent' must only apply to a small percentage of them.

    Of course there is the alternative that the incorrect information that many doctors give to their patients is not because they got it wrong, but because they are simply lying. I have a hard time believing that any pediatrician is unfamiliar with the test to see if a child has been exposed to chicken pox.

    Don't think that I am characterizing people in the medical field as evil. They are simply human. That means that sometimes they make mistakes, cover their asses, and take the path of least resistance. They are simply human. They sometimes do good work, and sometimes do bad work, just like people in any other field. Thinking that they are somehow infallible gods, just because they are doctors is naive at best. Unfortunately because they are in positions of power, they will often fall prey to the human failures that manifest with people in positions of power.
  • by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @09:14PM (#22301178)
    I agree. And I'd just like to add that another couple of problems with doctors is that,
    1) many seem to think they are done learning once they finish med school and get their practice going. They don't seem to have the research mentality that other scientists do. And,
    2) they have to deal with so many idiots who don't know or care about their bodies that they think we are all like that. And instead of giving us "dangerous" information that they don't feel we need to know they just give us the meds and send us on our way.
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @09:50PM (#22301514)

    or if your symptoms were so nondescript it could be a 100 things.

    Well shit. If you rule out the hard cases, an RN could do anything a general practitioner doctor can.

    That SHOULD be why they make the big bucks - the hard cases with confusing or nondescript symptoms. As a practical matter, most of them bail on anything they can't churn through in a 15 minute office visit. Even specialists are starting to suck. They can't be bothered to do any research, if the usual blood work doesn't solve the problem, they'll just roll through tests until they get lucky, or you just give up. Or die, maybe. And if your symptoms fall between specialties, you're completely fucked, because they can't be bothered to fill in knowledge gaps with...again...research. Which would help them put evidence together with their own expertise to make a successful diagnosis OR at least find the right specialist. But for most doctors, forget it.

    i'd say the most likely case here is that the doctor is right, and you just THINK you know better.

    I can back up the OP. I had a problem for 8 years that multiple doctors consistently failed at. None even came up with a guess, just saw me for an appointment, sent me off for the wrong test, told me they didn't know what it was, and referred me to someone else. When the 5th doctor in the chain referred me to the first, I said to hell with it and decided to live with the symptoms. I eventually got sick of that, and successfully diagnosed it myself. With Google, effort, and a brain.

    I feel sorry for others though. I'm a scientist and have good research skills. People shouldn't have to be forced to do their own medical care.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2008 @10:27PM (#22301848)

    I was wondering how many minutes it would take for an idiot to make fun of an epidemic that has killed thousands of people.
    Agreed. Sadly, many people just don't understand the tragedy of the condition. This horrible ailment is a serious issue indeed. And the epidemic is only getting worse. I, of course, am talking about being born without a sense of humor. Stay strong, parent poster. We will find a cure.
  • So who wants to... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Crazy Taco ( 1083423 ) on Monday February 04, 2008 @11:30PM (#22302352)

    So who wants to be the one to test this hypothesis?

    On another note, how can you say for sure if this even works? Usually whenever an AIDS vaccine is tried in humans, it is given to a population of people at high risk of getting HIV(usually gay men). How can you tell if something like this stops people from spreading it, when their partners are interacting with other, infectious people? They are likely to get HIV regardless, if not from the non-infectious person, then from someone else. How do you figure out which partner gave who what?

  • by lessthan ( 977374 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @12:08AM (#22302630)
    If you have HIV, that doesn't mean you have to stop having sex. It means you have to start using condoms (which you should have been doing anyway!!). The article is saying that so long as you take your meds, you won't give it to a partner. For example, a HIV positive women slips on broken glass and now there is bloody glass everywhere. Her husband helps her up and gets cut too. It is very unlikely that he'll get HIV.
  • by shihonage ( 731699 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @01:02AM (#22303036)
    The post I was replying to WAS about the United States. Sigh... it's not our job to police the world. Now that we reestablished the scope - the statistics, sure, you can put a spin on it by omitting the comparison to the 17% of heterosexuals that contract the disease, but that's all it is - a spin. The factual truth is, as far as statistics go, gays comprise the largest single group by far, and yeah, people might say, that DOES make it a gay disease, and yeah, they wouldn't be unjustified in that evaluation. The negative side of the Internet is that people are tempted to try to spin the numbers. The positive side, however, is that anyone with a modicum of critical thinking can look them up. This reminds me of kneejerk reactions to that Japanese guy who implied that your average woman's upper body strength is inferior to that of an average man. Oh no, how dare he cite facts ! That's so rude ! Let's just lie to ourselves instead, it makes us warm and cozy inside (rolls eyes).
  • Poor analogy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @03:59AM (#22304052)
    Instead of seeing a person as a patient, and quite frankly, the single most experienced person with their body, you see an "asshat".

    False dichotomy. Patients can be asshats. If you are working at a McDonald's and some jerk keeps on demanding you serve him a Whopper is he or is he not an asshat? Is it worth arguing about for 30 minutes?

    You, someone who thinks that 30 minutes is WAY to long to discuss a persons treatment.

    I'm not a doctor and I think 30 minutes is WAY to long to convince someone they do not need antibiotics when you are not going to give them antibiotics anyway and there are others in need.

    I have no doubt that if you went into a restaurant, and the waiter told you what you were going to order, you would tell him no, and order what you actually like. Why in the world would you think that someone would take less part in their own health.

    A bartender would have been a much better analogy. If you want to a restaurant and were obviously blitzed out of your mind, you might demand to be served, but the bartender will probably tell you no. You'll eventually leave or be thrown out and try to get your drink on elsewhere.

    Likewise, if you go to a doctor for antibiotics and his professional opinion is that you don't need them, then leave. Get a second opinion if you think he's a moron.
  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2008 @11:44AM (#22307124) Journal

    And this is yet another reason that people don't trust doctors. Instead of seeing a person as a patient, and quite frankly, the single most experienced person with their body, you see an "asshat".

    I'm afraid that the terms "patient" and "asshat" are not mutually exclusive. Especially in your case.

    You had some bad experiences with some doctors. Congratulations. Does this mean that every doctor everywhere is as outrageously incompetent as you seem to think they are? This DOCTOR just told you why doctors won't just whip out the Rx pad and write up a script for any old thing the patient wants, and you're arguing that he should just prescribe the wrong treatment for what the patient has.

    Did it ever occur to you that you JUST might have been the exception to the rule, and that most people don't know jack shit about what's going on with their body, THUS THE VISIT TO THE DOCTOR?

Loose bits sink chips.