End in sight for HIV?

Breaking news and breaking grounds..

"We need new tools or we won't have an AIDS- free generation." Dr Glenda Gray ( head of the Medical Research council).

"Scientists involved in HIV research reportedly sobbed on hearing that 30 years of work on developing a vaccine had finally achieved some success." The Times, May 19, 2016.

For those of you who missed this exciting news, the article can be found here.



How can an infant be HIV positive when tested at birth and a few months later be HIV negative?

When I first started working at an orphanage in Johannesburg called Ethembeni, I got my first taste of how quickly things progressed in the world of HIV. It was 2004 and as the norm, when a baby was abandoned and left in our care, a battery of tests were done on the baby to screen for HIV, TB, STIs and the like.
The test, that was common practice to check for HIV was the Rapid test called the Eliza test; a test that checks if antibodies existed for HIV. It is a common, inexpensive quick test that is widely used. Once anybody gets HIV, our immune system first starts forming antibodies as a immune reaction to the virus. This usually takes a few weeks to form ( hence, the window period - whereby the body is creating antibodies but the test does not show as positive yet). Our bodies usually take 4-6 weeks to form antibodies but in about 5 per cent of people, this process can take up to 3 months to form.

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I laughed so hard when I watched this youtube video on FB last week. It was designed by TBWA/HUNT/LASCARIS Johannesburg advertising agency for Nando's chicken brand for Kosher patrons.

It was first aired in 1999 and has certainly stood the test of time. It is relevant 18 years later. Although all of Nando's ads are controversial and often makes us feel a little uncomfortable, that is clearly their intention. They have successfully lampooned many a politician, celebrity or stereotype to push the boundary of conventional advertising. Their ads are often quirky and unique and often make us think...

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Experts debate possible HIV cure

Earlier this week, reports surfaced of doctors in the US who had successfully “cured” an infant of HIV. According to the Mail & Guardian, the child was born HIV positive and placed on ARV treatment consisting of three different anti-retroviral drugs at 30 hours.

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The "Berlin Patient" as he is known had HIV since 1995. He is a homosexual who was diligently on ARV medication for many years and kept to himself living a quiet and private life in Germany. Hence the alias.

In 2006/2007 he developed the most common blood cancer in adults called Leukemia.
Chemotherapy didn't help and his last chance was a stem-cell transplant from a bone marrow donor. So far, nothing is unusual in this line of treatment.
His oncologist who specialized in blood cancer Geto Hütter had a brain wave; he remembered that people with a natural genetic mutation called delta 32 disabled or stopped CCR5. This is a protein found on the very cells which is the pathway of HIV into human bodies.
If both parents have this CCR5 genetic mutation, early research showed that people with this mutation were immune to getting HIV. What was fascinating is that this genetic condition seems to occur only in Northern Europe which includes Germany.

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Reflections on World Aids Day

Ahead of World Aids day tomorrow (Sat 1 Dec) there is a large movement taking place encouraging people to get tested and know their status. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi took to television to deliver the message himself this morning, proudly displaying a bandage from his own test which has been administered five minutes before he went on-air.

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Sisters can do it for themselves


As much as the world has changed and we know and understand that "sisters can do it for themselves", the women in our society continue to risk being relegated to a secondary supportive role
in everything from politics to family. Women need to get out of the mindset that they are the primary caregivers only because of the lack of male presence in the home. We have marched to the Union Buildings and burnt our bras. We have fought in a struggle and raised our families. We have built businesses and broken down barriers.

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An exciting partnership with Durex

As an activist, I am always looking for new opportunities to increase awareness of HIV and Aids education. Now, a fantastic new partner has come on board to help spread the message to a whole new generation. Connect-Ed is an initiative by Durex that I am proud to put my name to. Working together, we have created a brand-new edition of my best-selling book “HIV and Aids” aimed at empowering young people to make positive choices about their sexuality and encouraging them to practice safe sex.

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