Health

New Antibody Attacks 99% of HIV Strains

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Scientists have created a new antibody that not only recognizes and fights 99% of HIV strains, but early tests are also showing its ability to prevent infection.

This new antibody is the work of both the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.

Together, the two groups have released the results of a study they’ve been conducting with the antibody.

To understand the way the antibody works you have to first understand that the real problem for treating HIV is.

HIV is ever changing. HIV’s composition can change and mutate constantly and these varying HIV “strains” makes it hard to combat the disease. If you target one strain, there will be an insurmountable amount of varying strains still standing in its place.

That said, throughout the decades there have been cases of people naturally developing what’s called “broadly neutralizing antibodies” that are able to kill several different kinds of HIV strains.

Scientists from both the US National Institutes of Health and the company Sanofi have combined samples of these anitbodies into what they call the “tri-specific antibody” and have developed it to attack three critical parts of the virus.

Scientists and researchers around the globe are celebrating the discovery and praising those involved.

Dr. Gary Nabel / Image via Nih Record

Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, the president of the International Aids Society, told the BBC News:

 "This paper reports an exciting breakthrough.”

"These super-engineered antibodies seem to go beyond the natural and could have more applications than we have imagined to date.”

"It's early days yet, and as a scientist I look forward to seeing the first trials get off the ground in 2018.”

"As a doctor in Africa, I feel the urgency to confirm these findings in humans as soon as possible."

In addition, Dr Gary Nabel, the chief scientific officer for Sanofi, also spoke to BBC about the antibody, "They are more potent and have greater breadth than any single naturally occurring antibody that's been discovered."

"We're getting 99% coverage, and getting coverage at very low concentrations of the antibody," said Dr Nabel.

The bulk of the earlier study was administered on 24 monkeys, with none of the ones who received the tri-specific antibodies getting infected with HIV, but now that that study was a success clinical studies on humans can commence sometime next year.

Instant Coffee That Gave Erections Is On Recall

There’s been a recall on instant coffee that worked a little bit too much like Viagra.

The type of instant coffee was New Kopi Jantan Traditional Natural Herbs Coffee from Bestherbs Coffee LLC.

The FDA analyzed the coffee and found that there were chemicals that were very similar to ones found in Viagra.

The specific chemical found was desmethyl carbodenafil, which is an ingredient with a structure very similar to sildenafil. Meanwhile, sildenafil is found in Viagra and adds to the erectile effect. You can see where the problem (or happy surprise for some) began.

But that’s not the only issue. In addition to this, milk that wasn’t declared in the ingredients list was found. This could cause a problem to anyone with issues ingesting milk.

As such, the company then decided to recall the product.

As the NPR says:

“The discovery has prompted Bestherbs Coffee LLC, the North Texas company behind the product, to voluntarily recall the product nationwide. The FDA says the undeclared chemical could pose problems when paired with nitrates, which are often found in drugs prescribed to “men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease.”

Luckily, there haven’t been any cases of illness yet, but if you have consumed the product you should dispose of any remains and call a doctor.

In addition, you can send the product back to Bestherbs Coffee LLC at Bestherbs Coffee LLC, 4250 Claremont Dr., Grand Prairie, Texas 75052. If you return the product in the mail you will get a check later reimbursing you for the package and the product itself.

So while a surprise erection enabling coffee might have been a great discovery on its own, the health risks were nothing to celebrate. Maybe on the next try.

HIV Victims and Villains: Who Is Really At Fault?

Picture of Tyler Curry (@iamtylercurry) courtesy of  Kevin Chung

 

There is a common assumption among the sexually active homo population that it is the responsibility of HIV-positive men to disclose their status before engaging in bedroom gymnastics. Based on this assumption, a person who doesn’t mention his status before he tries and fails to make a baby with another man silently asserts that he is HIV-negative by default. Even if a person living with HIV is undetectable and protection was used, he would be considered reprehensible, immoral and altogether villainous character if he failed to disclose his scarlet plus sign to his unknowing HIV-negative partner. But when it comes to the laws of responsibility in HIV disclosure, sometimes there is more than one suspect in a crime.  

The Scene of the Crime

The following scenario is based on a true story

Parker is a young, successful and single gay man living with HIV. Nathan is of the same homo vein, but he is HIV-negative. The two met while Parker was at a business conference and Nathan was on vacation with several of his friends. A mojito at the hotel pool quickly led to martinis at the closest gay bar. Dinner was served, flirtation escalated and Nathan ended up back in Parker’s room for a little more than dessert. The fast and frenzied pace of this out-of-town romance caught Parker by surprise and he failed to find the right moment to disclose his HIV status (and Nathan never asked). His viral load was at an undetectable level and they used protection, but his conscience wasn’t satisfied with this threshold of safety. 

The Confession

Parker and Nathan parted ways the next morning with plans to meet up for a drink later in the day.  By six o’clock, the weight of the guilt over not disclosing had Parker in need of more than just a strong pour on his vodka gimlet. He needed to clear the air. 

Parker told Nathan that he was HIV positive. He explained that he was on medication and had an undetectable viral load. He said that since they used a condom, his health was not at risk, but that it was important for Parker to be honest about his status. 

Nathan was visibly shaken and admitted that Parker should have disclosed his status before they had sex. He was concerned because there was a lot of kissing and oral play that took place.  Parker explained the reality of transmission and that Nathan had nothing to worry about, but the damage was done. Nathan felt victimized and he was sitting across from the smoking gun.  Needless to say, the two men didn’t order a second round.

For the jury of public opinion, the judgment of who committed the crime and who was the victim receives a unanimous vote. But before the sentence of shame is handed down to Parker for not disclosing his status, let’s look at who had the motive to commit the crime. 

Parker did want to tell Nathan about his HIV status. As a man who was actively managing his disease with treatment, it was important for him to be up front about being positive, even if there was no health risk involved. However, many people fail to understand that when you become positive, you aren’t handed an operator’s guide on how to handle your new status. The variables of sexual psychology are limitless when concerning dating and HIV. Although he failed to disclose that he was a positive man, he had taken the steps to protect Nathan and himself—both by using a condom and being steadfast in his treatment regime. 

Nathan is a sexually active gay man who, by default, is part of the HIV community. With one out of every five gay males being HIV positive, it is his responsibility to protect his own sexual health.  It’s true—Parker did not disclose that he is HIV positive. But Nathan didn’t disclose that he was HIV negative, nor did he ask to know Parker’s status before the clothes started to come off. In this scenario, Nathan has a motive to stay negative. Therefore, he is also guilty of committing a crime of not disclosing his status and not inquiring about the status of his sexual partner.

This is only one out of many criminal scenarios that many of us find ourselves in when it comes to dating, dirty talk and disclosure. When it comes to sex, there are always two (or more) suspects whose motives should be investigated. And when it comes to protecting each other’s health, the burden is mutually shared and the responsibility is equally divisible, regardless of status.

I always disclose my HIV-positive status because it is in the best interests of my health, not yours.