A mind is a terrible thing to waste…

…especially on a fake president who is also missing honesty, intelligence, respect for human rights, an understanding of basic economics and fairness. Who is followed around by a loyal fan club of voters whose basic political precepts have been formed by so-called reality TV.

Bill Gates is not impressed. Neither was the majority of voters in our last presidential election. Shows you what gerrymandering can accomplish.

Our fake president fires remaining members of HIV/AIDS advisory council


Trumpcare takes over!

❝ Months after a half-dozen members resigned in protest of the Trump administration’s position on health policies, the White House dismissed the rest through a form letter.

The notice “thanked me for my past service and said that my appointment was terminated, effective immediately,” said Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiologist at Emory University who works on HIV testing programs. He was appointed to a four-year term in May 2016…

❝ The group is designed to include “doctors, members of industry, members of the community and, very importantly, people living with HIV,” said Scott Schoettes, a lawyer with the LGBT rights organization Lambda Legal. “Without it, you lose the community voice in policymaking.”

❝ Schoettes was among those who quit in June, and he went out with a fiery commentary in Newsweek. “The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” he wrote in the column.

The only community voice Trump listens to is the one that is ready to hand him a blank check. Followed by the ignorant blivets who think they have something to gain from a fake president.

Six members of Trump’s advisory council on HIV/AIDS have resigned

❝ The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS is a body responsible for providing recommendations and information to the president, as well as overseeing the nation’s strategy for combatting the illness. On Friday, six members of the council resigned, writing in an op-ed published in Newsweek that they can no longer be effective under a “president who simply does not care.”

❝ The letter was written by Scott Schoettes, who was joined by five other members: Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados. In the letter, he explains President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t taken steps to formulate a strategy for combatting the illness, “and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease…”

❝ Schoettes noted that while the commission met with Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders during the primaries, it didn’t have the opportunity to meet with then-candidate Trump. He also indicated that the website for the Office of National AIDS policy was one of many taken down when Trump took office (it has yet to be replaced), while the president also has yet to name a head to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, which was formed in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama’s While House Domestic Policy Council.

❝ The letter particularly singled out the administration’s efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act, saying that the law has resulted in “gains in the percentage of people with HIV who know their status, the percentage engaged in care, [and] the percentage receiving successful treatment.” The proposals to replace the ACA with the American Health Care Act “would be particularly devastating for people living with HIV.”

Why waste time attempting to work with a know-nothing politician who only dedicates his time and effort to doing nothing or, worse, reversing what good has been accomplished by others?

A tiny USB drive will soon tell you if you have HIV — and how much

usb-hiv-test

❝ Rapid, at-home HIV tests aren’t new: OraQuick, which was released with much fanfare in 2012, provides reasonably accurate results using an oral swab in just 20 minutes. That product allows those who might not otherwise get tested for HIV — because of stigma or lack of access to treatment — to have a better chance of detecting the disease early and getting to a doctor.

But a new at-home device promises to do one better: Using a drop of blood, the USB stick test can actually detect the amount of virus present in a patient’s bloodstream in just half an hour. While OraQuick helps individuals figure out their HIV status so that they can seek medical treatment, the new device described this week in Scientific Reports could show a patient how well their ongoing medical treatment is working — and how transmissible their HIV might be…

❝ Why is that important? The more HIV virus present in a patient’s blood, the more taxed their immune response. A patient with a higher viral load will have fewer of the white blood cells that protect them from other infections. If HIV is allowed to run rampant in the bloodstream, patients can develop AIDS. But if anti-retroviral medication is used to lower the viral count — these days, often to zero — a patient can live normally, in good health and with a typical lifespan…

❝ More research is needed to confirm the accuracy of the device, and making it widely available across HIV-ravaged regions would be no small task. But the idea that monitoring HIV status could soon be as simple as checking blood sugar levels is certainly appealing, and provides hope that researchers may one day be able to all but eradicate the virus.

Bravo! Hopefully, to be manufactured and distributed by a firm with as much heart as profit motive.

Scientists just used CRISPR gene-editing techniques to remove HIV from human T-cells

Scientists managed to eliminate HIV-1 DNA from T cell genomes in human lab cultures. It will take time for advanced use in humans, but it is a remarkable accomplishment.

Using the much-touted CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method, scientists have demonstrated how they can edit HIV out of human immune cell DNA, and in doing so, can prevent the reinfection of unedited cells too.

If you haven’t heard of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technique before…It allows scientists to narrow in on a specific gene, and cut-and-paste parts of the DNA to change its function.

Earlier this year, scientists started using CRISPR/Cas9 to successfully treat a genetic disease – Duchenne muscular dystrophy – in living mammals for the first time, and now it’s showing real potential as a possible treatment for HIV in the future.

The technique works by guiding ‘scissor-like’ proteins to targeted sections of DNA within a cell, and then prompting them to alter or ‘edit’ them in some way. CRISPR refers to a specific repeating sequence of DNA extracted from a prokaryote – a single-celled organism such as bacteria – which pairs up with an RNA-guided enzyme called Cas9.

So basically, if you want to edit the DNA of a virus within a human cell, you need a bacterium to go in, encounter the virus, and produce a strand of RNA that’s identical to the sequence of the virtual DNA.

This ‘guide RNA’ will then latch onto the Cas9 enzyme, and together they’ll search for the matching virus. Once they locate it, the Cas9 gets to cutting and destroying it.

Using this technique, researchers from Temple University managed to eliminate HIV-1 DNA from T cell genomes in human lab cultures, and when these cells were later exposed to the virus, they were protected from reinfection…

While gene-editing techniques have been trialled before when it comes to HIV, this is the first time that scientists have figure out how to prevent further infections, which is crucial to the success of a treatment that offers better protection than our current antiretroviral drugs.

Bravo! As usual, technology and science are themselves immune from Good and Bad. Those uses are defined by the humans who use advances to their own ends. That’s where ethics are required. Full credit to Kamel Khalili and fellow researchers at Temple University who brought their talents to bear on one of the scourges of the 20th Century and more.

We can put an end to AIDS

Since the first cases of AIDS were identified in 1983, we’ve come a long way. Today we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic. So what will it take to end AIDS? Well, we know nowadays that we identify all those that are infected, we get them into therapy. We get them to take their medications and get the virus suppressed. That is not only good for them but it’s also good for society because transmission from HIV essentially stops.

We also need to identify all those individuals who are at risk of developing HIV, who are acquiring HIV but have not yet been infected. And those individuals can be put on something called PrEP or preexposure prophylaxis. In other words, you can give them an anti-viral medication that will prevent them from catching HIV. Those two things, treatment as prevention and PrEP, are critical in stopping the HIV epidemic.

So is that simple? What will it take really to stop the HIV epidemic? Well, first and foremost, in order to do these two things, getting more people on therapy and implementing PrEP, additional resources are needed. At a time where global economies are not doing well and competing public health problems exist demanding resources be allocated, we will need to find ways to find more resources to dedicate, to get people on therapy for HIV.

The second challenge is obviously combating stigma and discrimination. Throughout the epidemic stigma and discrimination has been a major barrier for people to get tested, for people to enter care, for people to remain in care. And therefore we need to continue addressing stigma and discrimination.

Finally, we’re going to have to make better healthcare systems. We need to retool and reinvent better ways to deliver care. Today when somebody gets infected with HIV they need to get into care and they need to remain in care for the rest of their lives getting antiretroviral therapy. We know that this component retention in care, keeping people engaged in care throughout the long haul is really a major challenge. And even here in the U.S. over 50% of people diagnosed who initially enter care are not retained in care…

RTFA. Better – watch the video with Dr. del Rio at the top of the article. The medical community is capable and on the way to ending a scourge that affects the whole world.

Scientist faked HIV breakthrough — sentenced to prison

A former Iowa State University scientist who altered blood samples to make it appear he had achieved a breakthrough toward a potential vaccine against HIV was sentenced on Wednesday to more than four and a half years in prison for making false statements in research reports.

Dong-Pyou Han, 58, also must pay $7.2m to a federal government agency that funded the research. He entered a plea agreement in February admitting guilt to two counts of making false statements.

Government prosecutors said Han’s misconduct dates to 2008 when he worked at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland under Professor Michael Cho, who was leading a team testing an experimental HIV vaccine on rabbits. Cho’s team began receiving NIH funding, and he soon reported the vaccine was causing rabbits to develop antibodies to HIV, which was considered a major breakthrough. Han said he initially accidentally mixed human blood with rabbit blood, making the potential vaccine appear to increase an immune defense against HIV, the virus that can cause Aids. Han continued to spike the results to avoid disappointing Cho, his mentor, after the scientific community became excited that the team could be on the verge of a vaccine.

Iowa State recruited Cho in 2009, and his team – including Han – continued the research with NIH funding. A group of researchers at Harvard University found in January 2013 the promising results had been achieved with rabbit blood spiked with human antibodies…

Government prosecutors sought prison time to serve as a deterrent to Han and others who might consider research fraud.

Is this a positive sign – or window dressing? I’d like to believe it’s the former.

There are new science review publications rolled out by hustlers just to give the appearance of peer-review – for a fee. There is no shortage of quacks ripping off the current generation of Luddites every week with junk science to reinforce – and profit from – fears of modern medicine.

FDA tells gay and bi men — “Stop having sex and you can donate blood!”

The Food and Drug Administration is relaxing a decades-long ban on blood donations from gay and bi men…The current policy, meant to protect against HIV transmission, bars any man who’s had sex with a man since 1977 from donating blood.

But the FDA is still requiring men to abstain from sex with other men for at least a year before donating.

That effectively bars men in monogamous same-sex relationships from donating.

We have good blood tests for HIV, which LGBT health advocates argue make any deferral or ban unnecessary…

When Australia dropped its ban, donations grew substantially and HIV infections did not.

So, why can’t the United States comprehend up-to-date science and manage regulations about donating blood in a sensible, useful and fair manner? The usual answer is that the politicians with oversight on such matters are bigoted cowards who would rather follow the moralizing of the lowest common denominator of ignorance – instead of providing the least bit of leadership.

And nothing has changed. Public pressure has forced the FDA into a practically valueless reiteration of the same crap rules they’ve had in place for years.

They just want to look a little bit enlightened.

HIV mutation opens another pathway to halt AIDS

Queensland researchers believe they’ve hit upon a “light switch” protein within the HIV virus, which can be flicked off to stop it developing into full-blown AIDS…

“This has the possibility – not to eliminate the virus – but hopefully to allow us to reconstitute a human immune system that is resistant to HIV,” Associate Professor David Harrich said.

He said they experimented on a normal protein usually used by the HIV virus to replicate itself in human cells and mutated it to create the “Nullbasic” protein.

We now have a very potent protein that can stop HIV from growing in cells,” he said…“Instead of being an activator of HIV, it’s an inhibitor of HIV…”

“The reason we got so encouraged was because of just how well this protein worked in the cell culture, so we’re fairly convinced the animal model study will be successful,” he said.

With animal then human trials predicted to take five to 10 years, Associate Professor Harrich said the ultimate goal would be to develop a gene therapy treatment – similar to therapies provided to people with cancer – that would replace current regimes of antiretroviral drugs.

“With a single therapy that you would have long-lasting protection from the virus and could lead a drug-free life,” he said.

Step by step the longest march can be won.

Drug OD leading cause of death among homeless adults in Boston

Drug overdose was the leading cause of death among homeless adults in Boston from 2003 to 2008 and accounted for one-third of deaths among those ages 25 to 44. A study by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program compared rates and causes of death among those served by BHCHP with data from a similar 1997 study and found that, while drug overdose had replaced HIV as the leading cause of death, overall mortality rates had not changed.

The significant drop in deaths from HIV infection was offset by the increase in deaths from overdoses and other substance-abuse-related issues, resulting in no change in the overall mortality rates from the earlier study. Overall mortality was higher in white individuals than in black or Hispanic homeless people, which — the authors write — may be due to a disproportionate burden of substance abuse and mental illness among white homeless individuals as compared to homeless minorities.

“Our results highlight the dire need to expand addiction and mental health services and to better integrate them into primary care systems serving homeless people,” says Travis Baggett, who is also an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “They also suggest that, while health care services like BHCHP can help improve the health of homeless people, they probably are not enough. Making a major impact on mortality for these patients will also require addressing the social factors that contribute to homelessness in the first place…”

“Our results highlight the dire need to expand addiction and mental health services and to better integrate them into primary care systems serving homeless people,” says Baggett, who is also an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “They also suggest that, while health care services like BHCHP can help improve the health of homeless people, they probably are not enough. Making a major impact on mortality for these patients will also require addressing the social factors that contribute to homelessness in the first place.”

Somehow, I think the basic premises accepted by the medical staff and volunteers on this project need reordering. The portion of the homeless community they’re dealing with – who are junkies – probably ended up homeless as a result of being junkies not the other way round.

IMHO – and life’s experience on a certain number of very mean streets – social issues include family, friends, peers and most often lousy treatment by a government that doesn’t give a rats’ ass about mentally ill folks without money or insurance. Junkies are a separate category entirely.