$600 million? Goodness.
A wondrous soul.
$600 million? Goodness.
A wondrous soul.
Elizabeth Taylor and actor Rock Hudson at the 1985 Golden Globes Awards ceremony.
Excerpted from the book Queers In History, via Google Books:
When Rock Hudson died on October 2, 1985, his close friend Elizabeth Taylor expressed the feelings of many when she said, “I love him. He is tragically gone. Please God, he has not died in vain.” Hudson, a major star of film and television for over thirty years, was the most popular public figure to die of AIDS-related illness at the time.
The link to the study is here (subscription to read the whole thing required), with that stunning line in the last of the abstract.
In a development that could change the battle against AIDS, researchers have found that taking a daily antiretroviral pill greatly lowers the chances of getting infected with the virus.
In the study, published Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the hundreds of gay men randomly assigned to take the drugs were 44 percent less likely to get infected than the equal number assigned to take a placebo.
But when only the men whose blood tests showed they had taken their pill faithfully every day were considered, the pill was more than 90 percent effective, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the division of the National Institutes of Health, which paid for the study along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“That’s huge,” Dr. Fauci said. “That says it all for me.”
The results are the best news in the AIDS field in years, even better than this summer’s revelation that a vaginal microbicide protected 39 percent of all the women testing it and 54 percent of those who used it faithfully.
A woman’s risk of infection with the AIDS virus can be significantly cut by the use of a vaginal gel, a study has found. The research marks the first success in a 15-year search for a way women can independently protect themselves from contracting HIV infection through sex.
Short of a vaccine, an effective vaginal microbicide has been the most elusive goal in the epidemic.
The research, which was conducted in South Africa and will be presented Tuesday at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, tested a gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir. While far from perfect, it was unambiguously helpful, reducing the risk of HIV infection by 39 percent in a group of women who used it for about three-quarters of their sexual encounters. Those who used it more consistently experienced 54 percent fewer infections.
If development follows the expected course, more-potent formulations, combined with campaigns to make the product appealing (or even sexy), could result in vastly better protection.
President Obama will gather AIDS experts at the White House today to launch the first national strategy designed to cut new infections, boost the number of people who get tested and treated, and reduce disparities in access to care.
The report notes that 1.1 million people in the USA are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and an additional 56,000 become infected each year, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Yet many Americans no longer view HIV as an urgent health problem, despite the misery it causes and its potential for further spread, the report says.
“Unless we take bold actions,” it warns, “we face a new era of rising infections, greater challenges in serving people living with HIV, and higher health care costs.”
These actions include intensifying HIV prevention efforts in communities hit hardest by the disease; the use of a variety of prevention methods because “no single ‘magic bullet’ will stem the tide of new HIV infections”; and the first national effort in decades to educate “all Americans about the threat of HIV and how to prevent it.”
Researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute and colleagues have for the first time demonstrated that human blood stem cells can be engineered into cells that can target and kill HIV-infected cells — a process that potentially could be used against a range of chronic viral diseases.
The study, published Dec. 7 in the-peer reviewed online journal PLoS One, provides proof-of-principle — that is, a demonstration of feasibility — that human stem cells can be engineered into the equivalent of a genetic vaccine.
“We have demonstrated in this proof-of-principle study that this type of approach can be used to engineer the human immune system, particularly the T-cell response, to specifically target HIV-infected cells,” said lead investigator Scott G. Kitchen, assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. “These studies lay the foundation for further therapeutic development that involves restoring damaged or defective immune responses toward a variety of viruses that cause chronic disease, or even different types of tumors.”
Taking CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes — the “killer” T cells that help fight infection — from an HIV-infected individual, the researchers identified the molecule known as the T-cell receptor, which guides the T cell in recognizing and killing HIV-infected cells. These cells, while able to destroy HIV-infected cells, do not exist in enough quantities to clear the virus from the body. So the researchers cloned the receptor and genetically engineered human blood stem cells, then placed the stem cells into human thymus tissue that had been implanted in mice, allowing them to study the reaction in a living organism.
The engineered stem cells developed into a large population of mature, multifunctional HIV-specific CD8 cells that could specifically target cells containing HIV proteins. The researchers also found that HIV-specific T-cell receptors have to be matched to an individual in much the same way that an organ is matched to a transplant patient.
The next step is to test this strategy in a more advanced model to determine if it would work in the human body, said co-author Jerome A. Zack, UCLA professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology and associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute. The researchers also hope to expand the range of viruses against which this approach could be used.
A new AIDS vaccine tested on more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand has protected a significant minority against infection, the first time any vaccine against the disease has even partly succeeded in a clinical trial.
Scientists said they were delighted but puzzled by the result. The vaccine — a combination of two genetically engineered vaccines, neither of which had worked before in humans — protected too few people to be declared an unqualified success. And the researchers do not know why it worked.
“I don’t want to use a word like ‘breakthrough,’ but I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is a very important result,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is one of the trial’s backers.
“For more than 20 years now, vaccine trials have essentially been failures,” he went on. “Now it’s like we were groping down an unlit path, and a door has been opened. We can start asking some very important questions.”
Results of the trial of the vaccine, known as RV 144, were released at 2 a.m. Eastern time Thursday in Thailand by the partners that ran the trial, by far the largest of an AIDS vaccine: the United States Army, the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Fauci’s institute, and the patent-holders in the two parts of the vaccine, Sanofi-Pasteur and Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases.
Col. Jerome H. Kim, a physician who is manager of the army’s H.I.V. vaccine program, said half the 16,402 volunteers were given six doses of two vaccines in 2006 and half were given placebos. They then got regular tests for the AIDS virus for three years. Of those who got placebos, 74 became infected, while only 51 of those who got the vaccines did.
Although the difference was small, Dr. Kim said it was statistically significant and meant the vaccine was 31.2 percent effective.