HIV

Remember Gilead, that wicked company that dared to cure hepatitis C and made a bunch of money doing so? If this doesn't ring a bell, go back a couple of decades. Perhaps you'll remember the company's anti-HIV drugs, you know, the ones that have essentially removed the term "AIDS" from the American vernacular (1) and are expected to completely end all new infections and deaths in Africa by 2030.

But despite four decades of research and one failed vaccine after another, AIDS has not been cured, only controlled. People who are HIV-positive must still take antiretroviral drugs for the rest of their lives to suppress the virus. But that could finally change. Gilead put a whole lot of that money...

In October, I wrote about the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report which reflected record highs in the three most commonly reported conditions in the United States in 2015:  primary and secondary syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. (1)

Concerns over increasing antibiotic resistance risks accompanying the rapid rate of rise of gonorrheal infection prompted researchers in Australia to investigate alternate means of prevention in addition to conventional measures (e.g. condoms).  

Dr. Chow...

Dr. Henry Heimlich, thoracic surgeon and creator of the famed maneuver that saves people from choking to death, died at the age of 96.  

In his own words, he best elucidates the profound nature of this triumph: 

“What makes the Heimlich Maneuver particularly special is this: it is accessible to everyone.  Because of its simplicity—and the fact that it works when performed correctly—just about anyone can save a life.  Each of us can save the life of a stranger, a neighbor, a spouse, or a child.  And it can happen anywhere—in restaurants, homes, ballparks—you name it.  You see, you don’t have to be a doctor to save a life.  You just have to have knowledge and the instinct to respond in a  crisis.”

...

Last week, I was fortunate to hear a talk at the Population Council given by the inspiring Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr. Dr. El-Sadr is the founder of International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and an expert on global HIV prevention and treatment. 

She touched on many aspects of HIV infection, giving both a global and historical perspective that should inform our thinking as we approach the future. One point that she made was an idea that I had not heard before, and struck me largely both for its simplicity and its innovation.

The idea is that HIV treatment is HIV prevention. 

And, that is a novel way...

Since the 1980s, great strides have been made in designing and producing new drugs to prevent and treat HIV-AIDS.  As a result, HIV infection has become a chronic disease that doesn't progress to life-stifling AIDS, at least in the developed world. Unfortunately, the same isn't necessarily true globally.  In parts of Africa, acquisition of HIV is still a massive problem. Women, in particular, are at high risk of acquiring the infection via sexual intercourse. Although condoms are the most effective non-pharmaceutical means of protection, their use is not under women's control. Prophylactic oral drugs and vaginal gels can also be effective — when used appropriately and consistently, but compliance is not always ideal. Thus, a means of intervention that doesn't require either daily...

Like an unlucky penny, Vladimir Putin keeps showing up in the American media. From allegations of election tampering to hacking emails, Mr. Putin chooses to stay relevant through notoriety. This has, bizarrely, earned him admirers all over the world.

For many reasons, this admiration is deeply misguided. Mr. Putin heads a kleptocracy and imprisons or murders political dissidents. And, as a shocking new essay in Foreign Policy explains, he fiddles while an HIV epidemic blazes through his country.

Today, there are an estimated 1.5 million people who have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in Russia, which has a population of...

The benefits of circumcision

In recent years, circumcision has become a prickly issue. Protesters smear fake blood on their pants*, decrying "genital mutilation." They declare that a man should make the choice for himself when he comes of age. 

As with most politicized topics, science gets quickly drowned out by activists' hyperbole and exaggeration. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for instance, says that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, though it falls short of giving the procedure a blanket endorsement. Never mind the scientific consensus, activists retort. This is merely evidence of systemic bias among American medical doctors.

A more evidence-based opinion...

hiv 2Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been responsible for 35 million fatalities since it was first recognized in 1981.  The initial infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is considered an epidemic that ranks with the influenza pandemic of the early 1900s and the Bubonic plague of the 14th century with regard to the number of deaths each caused. Not one area of the globe has been spared HIV’s wrath and it has caused tremendous human suffering and considerable economic and political strain. For these reasons combating this disease is an international priority.

In 2014 the United Nations Programme...

HIV prevention via shutterstock HIV prevention via shutterstock

Truvada has repeatedly been shown to prevent sexual transmission of HIV from infected (mostly) men to their uninfected partners — both men and women — even when protection is not used. Depending on patient compliance, this protection can be as high as 100 percent. But, like most things, one size doesn’t fit all.

Data from a recent ...

Charlie Sheen via Shutterstock Charlie Sheen via Shutterstock

Charlie Sheen may be a bit wacky, but disclosing to the public his very real, and very serious diagnosis that he's HIV positive may have been the single biggest force in HIV awareness in over a decade. In fact, one could call it a sort of D-Day, or Disclosure Day, if you will, with regard to its magnitude.

In a quasi-experimental approach analyzing Bloomberg Terminal and Google trends,...