Archive for medical

Drug ‘can greatly reduce risk of HIV infection’

Posted in HIV, Medical, news, pozzie life with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2010 by iamhivpositive

A drug used to treat HIV-positive patients may offer gay and bisexual men some protection against contracting the virus, the authors of a new study say.

Trials of the combination drug Truvada among nearly 2,500 men suggested it could reduce the chances of male-to-male HIV infection by 44%.

Those using the drug regularly could further reduce the risk of infection, it was claimed.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Pills and condoms

Truvada is the trade name of a drug manufactured by the California-based company Gilead Sciences Inc which combines two antiretroviral drugs, used to treat Aids.

But this new study looks at whether it could be used to prevent HIV infection in the first place.

Almost 2,500 gay or bisexual men were randomly selected in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and the United States. Half were given the pill, half were given dummy tablets.

All the men were also given condoms and counselling on safe sex.

What the researchers found after about a year of testing was that the drug appeared to cut male-to-male HIV transmission by 44%, when the group taking the pill was compared with the placebo group.

Those who took the pill regularly were deemed to have reduced their risk of infection further, by up to 73%, and blood tests were run to confirm this relationship between pill-usage and protection levels.

The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the federal US body, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The pills were donated by their manufacturer.

NIAID director, Dr Anthony Fauci, conceded more work needed to be done, but called the results impressive.

“This has been done in men who have sex with men. We need to know if we get similar results in women as well as in heterosexual men, which we have reason to believe we will,” he told the BBC.

“We also need to get a long term view of were there any toxicities. We didn’t see anything that was significant but we need to follow that for a long period of time.”
Questions and concerns

The trial does of course raise questions and concerns. Is it possible, for instance, that the results were skewed by greater condom use in the group that took the pill; and won’t such findings encourage some men to dispense with condoms altogether in favour of a drug?

There is also the issue of prohibitive cost of Truvada, which retails in the US for around $36 a day, and which makes the drug unaffordable to many possible users.

Dr Fauci argues that the two groups were fully randomised and says that drugs can only play a complementary role in the war on HIV. Condoms and fewer partners, he said, remain the first line of defence.

“We’re hoping that if this does become a useable tool in prevention, then the associated counselling will complement the effect of the drug and stop people becoming cavalier about it and say ‘now I have a pill I don’t have to worry’.

“That’s exactly the opposite of what we want to happen. We want to add something rather than have it replace something.”

Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, called the trial results “potentially significant”.

“It’s vital that we expand the ways we can prevent HIV transmission, particularly amongst those most at risk,” he said in a statement. “This trial proves that HIV treatment will have an impact on prevention, but that it’s not ready for widespread use yet.

“Three major hurdles are still going to be its cost, the risks of drug-resistant strains of HIV developing and taking a drug treatment every day.”

By Neil Bowdler
Science reporter, BBC News


Posted in Medical, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2010 by iamhivpositive

Sad, I trailed my way going to the SAGIP clinic of PGH. While walking there were a lot of flash backs in my head. Memories from 4 months ago… memories that I now have to fully let go.

I arrived 5 minutes before 1pm which is my check up schedule. I decided to put my back my happy mood since I have to let my doctor know that I’m doing fine. I knocked in the usual closed door of the small rectangular room. No one answered so I tried to open it, the small reception or nurse’s table was empty so I decided to open it a bit more. There was a girl, say early 30’s who was on the second cubicle and looked at me.

JunJun: Asan po yung nurse?
Lady: Ah, wala pa e… magwait na lang daw…

I thanked the lady and closed the door. I decided to wait outside and I texted my doctor informing him I was already outside. He replied back saying that I could come in and wait there instead. I went back to the clinic and took the visitor’s chair in front of the nurse’s desk. Dr. D suddenly popped out from the 2nd cubicle and asked me to go there. He asked me how I was and if I was living healthy and I told him everything that I have been doing. He was satisfied, I can say he was also happy hearing my happy stories.

He then took the weighing scale and prompt me to weigh myself and check my gain weight progress. I was soo excited and I even bragged that I gained weight. I told him he would be surprised. I carefully stepped on the machine and a little while, the number was clear… it’s 54. Yes, I am 54 kilos only. hahahaha. Dr. D smiled.

Dr. D: sige nga, tingnan natin kung nag-gain ka talaga…

He took a folder with my name on it, check my lab results until he found what he was looking for. My previous check up files. He smiled. Then said, it’s also 54!

Vitamin E with Selenium

Posted in etc, Medical, pozzie life with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2010 by iamhivpositive

I was advised by Trese to take Vitamin E with Selenium instead of Myra E… so last Sunday, I went to Mercury Drug and bought a month’s supply of it. I also researched about it and here is what I found out:

Facts About Selenium

In order to understand the benefits of selenium, it is important to first understand the facts about selenium.

Selenium is a trace element found in soil, and is required in small amounts to maintain good health. It is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas.

Selenium acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage
our DNA. It is often included with Vitamins C and E to help fight against cancer, heart disease and even aging. It has also been used to fight viral infections and may even slow the progression of AIDS/HIV. Selenium also contributes to good health by promoting normal liver function.

Other benefits of selenium include the protection against heart disease, the protection against toxic minerals, and the neutralisation of alcohol, smoke, and fats. It can help to increase male potency and it also involved in the maintenance of hair, skin and eyes.

Remain In Good Health with the Benefits Of Selenium

Selenium may be useful in preventing cataracts and muscular degeneration, the leading causes of impaired vision or blindness in older Americans. It is also vital for converting thyroid hormone, which is needed for the proper functioning of every cell in the body, from a less active form (called T4) to its active form (known as T3). In addition, selenium is essential for a healthy immune system, assisting the body in defending itself against harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as cancer cells. Its immune-boosting effects may play a role in fighting the herpes virus that is responsible for cold sores and shingles, and it is also being studied for possible effectiveness against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

When combined with vitamin E, selenium appears to have some anti-inflammatory benefits as well. These two nutrients may improve chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, and eczema.



Posted in Medical, Personal, pozzie life, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by iamhivpositive

All of us in the department was surprised when we received the notification email. The HR department sent us our schedules for our Annual Physical Exam or APE. It was too early, we usually have APE on the latter part of the year but how come it’s different this year? It was the last week of May. We are only given two weeks to finish have our APEs and of course, Filipino mentality, we decided to have ours on the last day.

I wasn’t scared nor nervous when I had my physical exam. I think I was already used to the needles, the doctors and the smell of the hospital. The only thing that I am not looking forward to is the blood extraction for the CBC count. I think I associated blood extraction already with HIV that’s why. The Medical Technician had a hard time looking for my vein that’s why he ended up pricking me 3 times! I know right?!? I felt like I was a cross stitch pattern as he even moved the needle left to right while the needle is under my skin. Ouch! I had my chest x-ray afterward and the doctor consultation. During the consultation, the doctor asked me if I am feeling anything different… I said no… And that was the truth. He also asked me if I am taking any medication, I told him I’m taking multivitamins, Vit C and Vit E… he scribbled something in his notes. He then asked me if I had any surgeries done, I said no, I lied. He then smiled and said I’m done and I could go back to the office.

After almost 2 months of waiting, finally we received another email from our HR department that our results are in and is ready for pick up. Mommy (one of my colleagues) handed me my result and I eagerly opened it. I was waiting for this since weeks ago. I immediately hurried and grab the results and I just ignored the x-ray. I was browsing the results and summing it all up, it reads NO PROBLEM… I smiled. I then looked at my chest x-ray result and my eye brows raised… it says:

Chest X-ray: Abnormal
Chest X-ray result: Faint densities in the periphery of the right upper lobe
Recommendation: For Apico-Lordotic view Chest X-ray of the right upper lobe

Honestly, I don’t know what it means but my heart started beating faster. I feel like my heart wants to get out of my chest. I hurriedly look at the x-ray film but it looks normal. Questions started popping in my head…

what does this mean?
Am I sick again?
Do I need to be hospitalised again?
What do I need to do?

Panic was eating me and my focus was lost. I sat in a chair and mommy told me not to worry and we’ll just ask Sweety (another colleague) what it is since she is a licensed RT. I tried to compose myself. Mommy’s right. I need not to worry since I am living a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there might be a mistake since I also just had my x-ray last April and it was clear. It says in the result that everything is normal. Before the day ended, I texted babe (as you all know, he is a medicine student), Lil J (registered nurse) and Nurse A (from his name, registered nurse) if they know what it means. Nurse A immediately replied saying I should ask a doctor instead.

The following morning, I woke up to a brand new day and I found one new message in my inbox. It was from Little J saying the same thing like what Nurse A said, don’t panic, ask a doctor first or go for a follow up check up. I am less worried now since I was already able to rest and clear my mind from last night. I know I don’t need to worry and I need to wait for what the doctor will tell me since it says there I need to have another x-ray. For sure, the company will ask me to have a follow up check up since my result came back abnormal. After a few minutes, I received a message from Babe and he answered it in a very “doctorish” way… he asked me if I have a fever or cough and then explain to me that the infiltrates can just be artifacts and should be correlated with what I’m feeling. However, considering that I am immunocompromised, my body may not be able to mount the usual immune response to diseases like TB and pneumonia. He then asked me how was my CD4 count. Honestly, I only understood half of what he said but I replied saying he was of big help and my cd4 was high and it is 759.

When I got into the office, I immediately looked for Sweety and asked her what the result meant. She said that I need to have my upper chest be x-rayed again to check if I might have early signs of TB. My jaw dropped. TB?!? I started to get scared again… I think she noticed my reaction and told me that I need not to worry until I have my next x-ray result. She said that the result might be due to the bad positioning when I had my x-ray. I hope so. But the word TB marked in my head and I can’t stop myself thinking about it. Again, questions started popping in my head:

Does this mean, I will have TB anytime soon?
I will be hospitalised again?
Am I dying soon?

I shook my head. The last thing I need is to worry. With my worrying, I might really end up dying early so I decided to wash it off my mind and continue the day… Hopefully, this is something that I really need not to worry about… again, I’m scared… =(

Great News! – Triple-punch gene therapy targets HIV

Posted in Medical, pozzie life with tags , , , on June 19, 2010 by iamhivpositive

Stem-cell transplant passes safety trial.

Alla Katsnelson


HIV (pictured) can find it hard to invade stem cells whose defences are bolstered by gene therapy.photodisc / Getty Images

A combination gene therapy that endows human stem cells with three ways to resist HIV has passed its first safety test in humans. Four patients with AIDS who were infused with these cells tolerated the treatment, and the cells produced their anti-HIV weapons for up to two years. The study is published today in Science Translational Medicine1.

Not enough cells were transplanted in the trial to cure the patients or even reduce their viral load. But researchers hope that after further clinical trials, combination gene therapy may replace or complement anti-retroviral drugs as a way to treat people living with HIV.

The trial piggybacked on a standard treatment, in which individuals with AIDS receive transplants of their own previously saved blood stem cells, in an attempt to prevent the development of lymphoma (blood cancer). In addition to normal blood stem cells, the patients were also given cells into which three types of RNA-based gene therapies were carried by a lentivirus.

Last year, a different research group reported on a later-stage trial in which an RNA enzyme targeting HIV was delivered to 38 HIV patients using their own blood stem cells. While the treatment was somewhat effective, it did not reduce viral load to a statistically significant degree — perhaps because levels of the therapeutic gene in the blood dropped considerably during the course of the 100-week trial2.

In another study published last year, however, German physicians found that an HIV patient who also had leukaemia was seemingly cured of both diseases by a stem-cell transplant3. The cells came from a donor who had a protective deletion in a gene that gave him natural resistance to HIV (see ‘Stem cell transplant wipes out HIV’).

In the current trial, the researchers engineered a combination of genetic resistance into stem cells, aiming to replace an immune system susceptible to HIV with one able to resist the virus’s attack1.

Three-pronged attack

First, to stop HIV from penetrating the host cells, the researchers gave the cells an RNA enzyme that would cleave the message that codes for a protein called CCR5, preventing HIV from using the protein as a co-receptor to enter the cell. “We know from a lot of populations that this is a great target — it can downregulate [HIV levels] by 90%,” says John Rossi, a molecular biologist at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, who worked on the trial.

But interfering with CCR5 is not foolproof, because HIV can evolve other ways of penetrating the cell. “If somehow the virus should get into these cells,” Rossi explains, “then we have the cells armed with two different approaches” to fight back. So the researchers used a second mode of attack, and inserted a decoy RNA that interferes with a viral protein called tat, which is important for replication. Third, they used a technique called RNA interference (RNAi), in which they deployed a short sequence of RNA to degrade the message coding for that same viral protein and one of its partners in crime. Such different mechanisms will make it harder for viral resistance to develop, Rossi notes.

In three of the four patients, the blood stem cells continued to produce these RNAs 18–24 months after they had received the transplant. The patients also showed no adverse reactions to the vector — a long-standing concern with gene therapy.

Early promise

“It’s a small study, but it’s a step in the right direction,” says Pablo Tebas, a clinical researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who works on gene therapy and vaccines for HIV. “The most promising thing is that it shows you can modify stem cells in a way that makes them [HIV-]resistant, and the progeny of those cells would still be resistant to HIV and would still be functional.” Tebas’s group, in collaboration with Sangamo, a biotechnology company based in Richmond, California, is conducting a trial with a therapy that aims to delete the CCR5 protein in cells.

To make sure that the therapy was safe — and that patients received enough non-engineered cells to treat their lymphoma — Rossi says that the researchers could only include a small proportion of engineered cells in the transplanted mix. That was not enough to reduce the patients’ viral load. But the team did see promising hints that the number of engineered cells increased when levels of virus in the blood went up, suggesting that these cells are selected for at the crucial time.

That is the stage [at which] you should reach a level of transduction where you get an increase in the number of transduced cells in the face of infection,” says Premlata Shankar, an HIV vaccine researcher who works with RNAi at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in El Paso. “I don’t think we are there yet.”

“What we really want to do now is increase the percentage of gene-modified cells in the patient,” says Rossi. He and his colleagues are planning a new trial, in collaboration with Benitech, a biotech company based in Melbourne, Australia, in which they will be able to take cell samples containing a larger number of a patient’s blood stem cells and transplant only engineered cells, without diluting their effects by also transplanting natural ones.