Report for 2011
By Angie Bowie Barnett 03/01/2011
Dying of any disease apart from old age is not a good way to go. What characteristics contribute to an at risk health profile? Poor nutrition, stressful employment or no employment at all, not enough physical exercise or poor choices with stimulants or recreational sex partners, these unhealthy profiles could fit any one of us at one stage during our lives. If these behaviors last longer than a random foray into lunacy they can result in catching other STDS or to infection by the HIV virus. Use a condom or say no until you have learned more about a sexual partner. Stay healthy, active and alert to unsafe situations. But these precautionary words are not always enough. Other actions like borrowing needles for drug sharing, transfusions of infected blood, AIDS is a mainstream killer if neglected and a sleeping assassin if one is a carrier.
There are drugs available at a price which can lengthen survival rates by years and often decades. So we know how to slow down the viral attack, we are just at a loss to completely exterminate it and stop its replication. HIV progresses and survives by changing enough to escape detection or to dupe a defense to stop the spread of the infection by camouflaging its cells and slipping through to replicate. This ability is what has stopped the successful development of an AIDS vaccine. The ability to change or go stealth is an extra obstacle in the fight to cure AIDS that we must overcome.
The world has a right to expect some sort of progress in the race, the slowest race in history, to find a cure for AIDS and Cancer. These two diseases are the most long-running shows of sorrow and despair in human history. What better way to deflect attention from the real crimes going on in government if you stir up a mess over here and get everyone talking about funding to cure a disease, which removes attention away from the other crimes being planned and executed by covert departments within international governments.
A world without disease is a perfectly acceptable way to view the future. Curing disease allows folks to plan a life. The same way birth control gave two people the opportunity to plan a family as opposed to random births, so disease control frees up a huge amount of money for other activities.
The best place to get a world-wide post-card of the AIDS situation in 2011 is at the World Health Organization, the medical arm of the United Nations and the American Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. The CDC is important as the USA has many AIDS patients and a medium-rate response to the situation. The United Nations fights AIDS globally with around $16 billion per annum. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was speaking in New York about the necessity to make the money go further as the number of AIDS cases increase internationally.
Other players have shown up as part of the fight against AIDS. In September, 2010 The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise delivered a Scientific Strategic Plan, which presented a strategy to expand recent progress in HIV Vaccine Research after a promising trial in Thailand; more than 400 scientists worldwide participated in the Plan Development. They will be holding an international conference in Thailand in September 12-15 of 2011[i]
Here’s a recap for our younger readers:
The World Health Organization defines AIDS as a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system destroying their function. The patient weakens and dies. It may take 10-15 years for the disease to reach the critical stage called AIDS. ART – anti-retroviral drugs can slow down the development of the disease but when the advanced stages of the infection set in, it is possible to further complicate one’s health issues with any of 20 opportunistic infections or cancers. Another side effect of lowered immune systems is the invasion of opportunistic infections like tuberculosis. Tuberculosis has made a re-appearance and complicated the deaths of a quarter of the terminal HIV cases in Africa.[ii]
The World Health Organization provides us with international statistics and data and it is easier to understand the enormity of the international AIDS/HIV problem. There are 33.4 million cases worldwide amongst low and middle income countries. In 2008 another 2.7 million people were infected. 27 million folks have died so far on the planet from AIDS since 1983.
ART drugs prolong life and allow AIDS victims to function and have quality of life. Being able to pay for and distribute these drugs to AIDS patients worldwide is the most important challenge at the moment. By supplying these drugs to folks who are HIV positive, their lives can be prolonged until a cure is found for the disease. Without ART drugs, full-blown AIDS is far more severe and the chances of survival is not good. But there’s always hope and there’s always the promise of a cure. At the moment 5.2 million HIV positive cases in low and middle income countries out of 33.4 million cases worldwide are able to access ART drugs.
In 2008 there were two million children living with HIV worldwide. The majority, 80% of the children live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mothers who take ART drugs during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding will not infect their children. Children who are HIV positive and receive ART drugs live longer and enjoy a better quality of life that means they are able to play or study a little bit.
In 2005, only 35,000 children received ART drugs; by 2009, 355,000 children received ART drugs. But that still does not fulfill the need. In 2011, The UN Secretary General warned that drug costs and caring for the increasing number of HIV cases will escalate to a point where expenses will be too great. They are endorsing international programs of abstinence, using condoms, advocating AIDS testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, avoid using intravenous drugs unless absolutely necessary, only use needles once and dispose of them and make sure any blood products that you need have been fully tested and are not HIV positive.
The cost to find a cure for AIDS, drugs to support those already afflicted and a vaccine to prevent future generations from suffering of AIDS is funded in part by governments and often by charities whose figureheads and icons spearhead the fund-raising efforts of their fans and followers.
Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor, using their notoriety to raise funds for research and AIDS support, were joined by Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg and Annie Lennox. Annie Lennox is an activist for AIDS asked if the group of well-informed writers at the Rolling Stone offices were aware that one in three folks carried the HIV virus. She visited women in South Africa whose lives were ending because they did not have the AIDS medication that is already available elsewhere to save their lives. Another singer Beverly Knight commented on her eyewitness experiences in Salvador; she explained that it was women teaching other women about STDs, they marched for the HIV victims who were murdered for their condition. Knight commented on the empowerment these women have and the apathy which pervades western nations on these most important issues. I spoke with Patti Boulaye yesterday and she told me that in Africa where she has been building health clinics she witnessed the witch doctor try to bury 60 babies with the AIDS virus alive. He said their spirits were evil and to contain that evil that was the plan death by entombment and suffocation with 59 of your baby chums.[iii]
Elizabeth Taylor raised at least $270 million dollars to support the fight against AIDS.[iv] Her selfless contribution to raise that money is remarkable. Taylor lost Rock Hudson to AIDS and they were friends from working together in a film called ‘GIANT’ which cast James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in a pleasing story of Southern oil fields and revenge made in the 1960s. Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor experienced the introduction of the vaccine for polio; they knew that a disease could be cured if enough money was thrown at it.
The 1920s and 1930s had tuberculosis and they found a vaccine for that, the 1930s and 1940s had polio and they found a vaccine for that. The history of AIDS vaccine research may be illuminated by the success stories of other vaccines: smallpox, polio, diphtheria, measles and yellow fever. Smallpox and polio are controlled by a vaccine, Though polio has an effective vaccine there are areas where polio outbreaks have required vaccine imports to combat the clusters. The benchmark vaccine story is that of smallpox.
Worldwide, 300 million died from smallpox in the 20th century. British doctor, Edward Jenner learned from a milkmaid that she was protected from smallpox as she had caught cowpox from a cow, or so she thought. I’d call her a pretty astute milkmaid. Jenner developed the small pox vaccine from cowpox, and by 1977 smallpox was eradicated all over the world.
Polio’s first documented cases are from thousands of years ago but the disease became active in the 19th century in Europe and the United States. Polio vaccines were developed and administered to populations all over the world. In 1789 the first recognizable case of polio was described by British physician, Michael Underwood. In 1908 Karl Landsteiner and Erin Popper identified the disease as a virus by transmitting it to a monkey. In 1916 there was a huge polio epidemic in the United States.
When the American president is afflicted by a disease without a cure, things change. Prior to being elected president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted polio at the age of 39. His polio changed popular perception of folks with handicaps. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in as president. Roosevelt never lied about having polio but he did hide the extent of his disability. Jonas Salk first tested a vaccine in 1952; Albert Sabin developed the oral dose polio vaccine and human trials began in 1957.
In the 1980s the outbreak of AIDS worldwide was a declaration of war on the new-found, proud freedoms to be who we are in sexual orientation and sexual freedom. No-one welcomes another Sexually transmitted disease stifle sexual enjoyment for another 20 years.
The time of the first recorded AIDS case has been wound back to 1969 via Haiti when the AIDS virus appeared in the United States. Michael Worobey, lead author and assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona and their researchers, estimate that the virus was carried from the Congo by Haitian workers returning to Haiti and went on to Miami where the Haitian workers became ill in the early 1980s and that is where their blood samples were taken.[v]
The promise to cure these diseases, that have taken more folks from us than wars and other genocide, is still not fulfilled. Though we talk and support, raise money and turn it over to the powers that be, there seems to be little if any progress towards finding a vaccine and a complete cure for AIDS and/or cancer.
Credit must be given where it’s due: George W. Bush created PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) in 2004 and delivered $19 billion to Africa and other hard-hit parts of the world ravaged by AIDS. President Obama inherited the Middle Eastern war debt and the unraveling of the Western banking system. His electoral pledge to make billions available to find a cure for AIDS has disappeared like the Tsunami debris with the reality of just how long and how bad the international recession will be.
In January of 2010, the ban on folks with HIV travelling to the United States was lifted. The White House office issued the National HIV/AIDS Strategy initiative. President Obama pledged, in that “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination. (July 2010)” [vi]
There is no mention of funding for an AIDS vaccine. The way to motivate the scientific community, if we take a classical approach, is with a substantial prize of money—a small fortune. [vii] A competition has been organized to fund and stimulate competition to find a cure for AIDS but first year funding amounts to only $8 million. A 10 million dollar prize has been offered by the Global Vaccine Enterprise folk which includes Bill and Melinda Gates and the folks listed below.[viii]
In the last 30 years much time has been donated and many dollars spent to inform folk about the risk of AIDS. In 1995, 44% of the general population knew that AIDS was the most dangerous epidemic threatening our nation. In 2009, only 6% of the population was aware of the threat of AIDS to every American citizen, one of whom is infected with the HIV virus, every nine-and-a-half minutes. 600,000 American citizens have already succumbed to AIDS
Meanwhile, back to the 2010 Vienna AIDS Conference where the focus was all about Africa who spent a billion dollars and developed a microbicide gel that lessens women’s chances of getting HIV virus or genital herpes from a partner. The gel was developed by CAPISTRA--The Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa. The gel was conceived and designed in Africa and received a standing ovation at the conference. The African initiative and success proved if one spends the money, one is assured a better outcome.[ix]
The German development is relevant at this point concerning stem cells: German AIDS Research had a boost when an American living in Germany was cured of his HIV infection when he was treated for leukemia with a bone marrow transplant. From this case came the idea was that gene therapy might be a futuristic way to cure AIDS.[x]
Luc Montagnier, director of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi of the Institut Pasteur were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for their French AIDS Research.
Let’s take our lead from the African example and show that we are committed to stopping this epidemic. Is Africa the only nation suffering this catastrophe? No. Is Africa the only country with the foresight to do something united and in concert spending a huge sum of money to find a useful preventative tool in the fight against the spread of AIDS? That may very well be, judging from the research results they have achieved as opposed to the rest of the planet’s efforts so far.[xi]
How are the leaders of the Free World going to explain to their citizens and taxpayers, what that means, in corporate/governmental terms? The taxpayers are their employers. If the government does not perform they will be fired….It cannot be good governance to lag behind the rest of the world when we know that AIDS and Global Warming are real and need to be resolved, we do nothing because the traditional parties are preferable to the mad Mavericks called Liberationists. We have to wake up and join the 21st century.
With a little creative thinking the leaders of the free world could use their influence and power to benefit those who need a voice. By supporting the AIDS vaccine initiative, we are also respecting and joining in with other world leaders who have pledged to make the vaccine available within our lifetimes.
At the meeting of the Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, formed in 2003 by world leaders to share research leading to an AIDS vaccine, they reported “As one of the most powerful tools for preventing infection against other infectious diseases, a safe, effective, accessible HIV vaccine is therefore, one of our greatest priorities—and one of Science’s greatest challenges.”[xii]
The most optimistic development in vaccine research occurred in Thailand. The RV144 trial is cited by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. Though the vaccine was only 31% effective in protecting against the HIV virus that’s better than all the trials so far have resulted! The Thai trials also focused the research compass and to where the research needed to aim its lens for success. Also there have been other advances made in understanding the response of the disease to various indicators. STEP and Phambili are two vaccine trials that although they yielded no immediate vaccine allowed us to eliminate other formulae of ingredients. As a result of RV144, the Global Vaccine Enterprise is going to hold this year’s annual conference in Thailand. September 12-15 2011.[xiii]
AIDSBeGone is an attempt to draw people’s attention to AIDS awareness, activism in support of government measures to free up resources to address issues which actually mean something to the people, like curing terminal illnesses. You can find us and all the wonderful talent that contributed tracks to these cds at www.aidsbegone.org
Thank you for your time.
10 AIDS research Advances in 2010
1) In January 2010, President Obama lifted the ban on HIV positive people travelling to America.
2) In July of 2010, The White House issued the National HIV/AIDS Strategy initiative to coincide with the International 2010 VIENNA AIDS Conference.
3) At the conference, CAPISTRA, the African research group announced that they had developed a microbicide gel that reduces women’s chances of getting HIV or genital herpes at the Vienna AIDS conference. CAPISTRA’s announcement of its billion dollar investment was greeted by a standing ovation.
4) An American AIDS patient in Germany was cured of AIDS symptoms after treatment for leukemia.
5) International funds to support those with HIV in America and for research to develop drugs to help extend patients’ lives decreased in 2009 from $7.7 billion to $7.6 billion probably due to the profound impact of the recession.
6) There is a need for drugs, support counseling and dollars to help the growing rate of HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe.
7) In the United States of America there is an AIDS epidemic: Blacks represent only 12% of the American population and yet account for 46% of the folks living with HIV and 45% of those with new infections each year. The Washington DC rates of AIDS incidence is 4.7% of Black residents are infected and in Uganda the incidence level is 5.4%
8) The Aids Vaccine Conference was held in Atlanta September 28-Oct.1 2010— A 10 million dollar prize is still on offer by the Global Vaccine Enterprise for an AIDS vaccine. I think it should be a billion dollar prize.
9) Progress was made in vaccine research when the RV144 trial lowered the likelihood of AIDS transmission by 30% which is an improvement on prior trials results. The Council of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise[xiv] Conference will be held September 12-15 2011 in Bangkok, Thailand.
10) During the four years of PEPFAR, American president, George W. Bush delivered 19 billion dollars to the help the rest of the world combat AIDS and support those afflicted by the HIV virus.
[i] The Global HIV Vaccine Scientific Strategic Plan, published in Nature magazine presents a detailed strategy to expand recent progress in HIV Vaccine Research; more than 400 scientists worldwide participated in the Plan Development GLOBAL HIV VACCINE ENTERPRISE
[v] AIDS virus hid in US for a decade study finds by Eric Swedlund Arizona Daily Star Oct 30 2007
[viii] the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Emory University, the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS), Georgia Research Alliance, Geovax Inc., GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), Mabtech, Merck & Co., Inc., Morehouse School of Medicine, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Office of AIDS Research of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada, sanofi pasteur, UNAIDS: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP), and the Wellcome Trust. Conference chairs are Eric Hunter, Ph.D., Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar and co-director, Center for AIDS Research at Emory University; James Curran, M.D., MPH, dean, Rollins School of Public Health and co-director, Center for AIDS Research, Emory University; Carlos del Rio, M.D., Hubert chair, department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health and co-director, Center for AIDS Research, Emory University; Harriet Robinson, Ph.D., senior vice president of research and development, GeoVax, former director, division of Microbiology and Immunology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University.
[x] Wall Street Journal November 7 2008 A Doctor, a Mutation and a Potential Cure for Aids by Mark Schoofs
[xi] World Health Organization website>More than 2 million children are living with HIV/AIDS, according to 2008 figures. Most of the children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Almost 1200 children become newly infected with HIV each day. The number of children receiving ART increased from about 75 000 in 2005 to 355 000 in 2009. Mother-to-child-transmission is almost entirely avoidable, but access to preventive interventions remains low in most developing low- and middle-income countries. However, progress has been made. In 2008, 45% of pregnant women living with HIV received antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus, up from 10% in 2004. In 2007, more than 450 000 deaths from tuberculosis occurred among people living with HIV. This is equal to nearly a quarter of the estimated 2 million deaths from HIV in that year. The majority of people living with both HIV and TB reside in sub-Saharan Africa (about 80% of cases worldwide), of whom around one quarter are in South Africa.
[xii] Nature Medicine Volume 16 Number 9 September 2010 pages 981-989.
[xiii] Mahidol University, the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, and the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise cordially invite you to join AIDS Vaccine Conference 2011 (AV2011), which will be held 12-15 September 2011, at the Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand. We are naturally delighted and proud to welcome the conference to Asia for the first time.
The Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, and the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, joint Local Hosts for AV2011, have been at the forefront of AIDS/HIV vaccine research and development in Thailand since 1993, when the National Plan for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development and Evaluation was launched. Since then, two Phase III and 11 Phase I/II trials have been conducted in Thailand, with more trials in the pipeline. RV144 recently provided breakthrough results, which have encouraged and energized the HIV vaccine research and development field.
Over the past decade, the AIDS Vaccine Conference has become the largest and most prestigious global scientific conference focused exclusively on AIDS vaccine research. It is now the major venue for investigators, providing a world stage on which cutting-edge HIV research of the highest scientific caliber is presented and debated among experts from the global community. AV2011 will provide an interactive forum for the participation of leaders and future leaders in the HIV vaccine field—policymakers and funders, multidisciplinary and highly specialized researchers, promising and talented young scientists, public-health experts, clinicians, epidemiologists, representatives of community associations and community advocates, and members of the private HIV vaccine-development sector--thereby fostering and strengthening a collaborative global network and a global research environment.
While the recent Thai RV144 trial progress has been extremely encouraging, we still have a long way to go before an affordable, effective vaccine against HIV will become available. While current prevention tools can lower the incidence of HIV, we need a vaccine to prevent the 2,700,000 new infections each year. A safe, effective vaccine will represent one of the greatest public-health advances ever, and its development is one of the greatest scientific challenges ever undertaken.
· United Nations AIDS research and coordinating policy
· UK AIDS Research