Thursday December 5, 2013
South Africans awakened this morning to the news that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former-president and beloved human rights icon, has died at the age of 95. The hours since his passing at 8:50pm on Thursday, December 4 have been one of somber reflection for many, both here in South Africa and abroad, who have long held Mandela as a symbol of hope, freedom, dignity and tolerance.
His contributions to HIV/AIDS, most notably the founding of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and his 46664 charity, helped usher the country out of an era of deep governmental denialism into one that today operates the largest free antiretroviral program in the world.
What is being felt here on the ground is not so much a sense of grim resignation or despair, but rather a feeling of shared gratitude for helping lead the country to a place where it can move forward, positively and productively, well after his death.
A tribute to Mandela if ever there was one.
Sunday December 1, 2013
In what can only be described as an unprecedented blunder, the World Health Organization (WHO) apologized for reporting that half of new HIV infections in Greece were self-inflicted by those wanting to obtain a $1000 per month governmental benefit.
The WHO has since claimed that an editorial error in the 184-page report -- entitled the Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region -- was the cause for the gaffe, and insists that they meant to say that half of all new infections were "self-inflicted" through intravenous drug use.
(Apparently, the term "a few individuals" from a referenced article in The Lancet was somehow replaced with "half of all new infections" by the time of publication.)
Sunday December 1, 2013
Neurocognitive impairment is frequently associated with long-term HIV infection, affecting more than 50% of HIV-infected people, with conditions ranging from mild memory loss and deterioration of fine motor skills to more serious disorders like AIDS dementia complex.
While the mechanism for this impairment remains less than certain, it has long been postulated that neurotoxins secreted by HIV-infected cells may cause nerve cell death, gradually (and sometimes profoundly) deteriorating synaptic pathways in the brain.
A new study from the University of Minnesota Medical School suggests that this may not be the case. According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, a specific protein called Tat (or transactivator of transcription) is actively shed by HIV-infected brain cells and, rather than killing nerve cells, causes an over-stimulation of the neural network as the protein binds with and effectively alters synaptic connections in the brain.
Friday November 29, 2013
Since 1988, December 1 has been designated as World AIDS Day, and in keeping with this year's theme, "Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation," we'd like to offer a few suggestions on what you can do to help move forward this global HIV/AIDS initiative:
1. Educate and protect yourself. Start by learning the facts and by doing a personal risk assessment to better understand your personal vulnerabilities to HIV infection.
2. Get tested. With advances in therapy now affording people near-normal life expectancy and good quality of life, it's more important than ever to get tested. Find your nearest testing center (many of which offer free, anonymous, rapid HIV testing) through the AIDS.gov Service Locator.