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Issue No. 42 | October 15, 2009

News and Features

October 15 is National Latino AIDS Awarenes Day

"'National Latino AIDS Awareness Day is a reminder of HIV and AIDS’ heavy impact on the Latino community.  Every nine and a half minutes someone new is infected with HIV, and almost one-fifth of people who are living with HIV and AIDS are Latino.'

"'The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic men is more than double that among white men, with gay and bisexual men particularly affected.  Also the rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic women is nearly four times that of white women.  These people aren’t statistics -- they are our friends, neighbors, and people we love -- and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the number of Latinos living with AIDS is growing.'

"'National Latino AIDS Awareness Day serves as another important reminder.  HIV and AIDS are preventable.  Taking an HIV test gives you the power to stop HIV transmission.  If you know your HIV status, you can take steps to protect your partner.  If you find out you are HIV-positive, then you can get life-extending treatment.  CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV.'"

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NIH Begins H1N1 Vaccine Trial in HIV-Infected Pregnant Women; HIV-Infected Youth and Children's Trial to Begin Soon

"The first clinical trials to test whether the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine can safely elicit a protective immune response in pregnant women launched [October 8, 2009], and a trial to conduct the same test in HIV-infected children and youth will begin [in the coming weeks]. The International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials Group is conducting the studies, which are sponsored and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), both part of the National Institutes of Health.

"'These studies are important because HIV infection and pregnancy both increase the risk for a poor immune response to the normal 15-microgram dose of seasonal influenza vaccine given to the general population,' says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. 'Moreover, children, young people and pregnant women are at higher risk for more severe illness from the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus than other groups, and HIV-infected individuals in these populations may be particularly vulnerable.'

"'Because of the increased vulnerability of these populations, these trials are testing whether  doses of licensed 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine that are higher than doses being tested in other groups can safely elicit protective immune responses in HIV-infected children, youth and pregnant women,' adds Lynne Mofenson, M.D., chief of the Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch in NICHD.

"One trial will enroll 130 HIV-infected pregnant women ages 18 to 39 years who are in their second or third trimester (14 to 34 weeks) of pregnancy. The other trial will enroll 140 children and youth aged 4 to 24 years who were infected with HIV at birth."

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Study Offers New Lead for Antiretroviral Drug Development

"Nef is an HIV-1 accessory protein essential for AIDS progression and an attractive target for drug discovery. Lack of a catalytic function makes Nef difficult to assay in chemical library screens. We developed a high-throughput screening assay for inhibitors of Nef function by coupling it to one of its host cell binding partners, the Src-family kinase Hck. Hck activation is dependent upon Nef in this assay, providing a direct readout of Nef activity in vitro. Using this screen, a unique diphenylfuropyrimidine was identified as a strong inhibitor of Nef-dependent Hck activation. This compound also exhibited remarkable antiretroviral effects, blocking Nef-dependent HIV replication in cell culture. Structurally related analogs were synthesized and shown to exhibit similar Nef-dependent anti-viral activity, identifying the diphenylfuropyrimidine substructure as a new lead for antiretroviral drug development. This study demonstrates that coupling non-catalytic HIV accessory factors with host cell target proteins addressable by high-throughput assays may afford new avenues for the discovery of anti-HIV agents."

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Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Treatment-Naïve People with HIV Infection

"Various studies have been conducted to evaluate the role of antiretroviral therapy in the onset of cardiovascular risk among HIV-1-infected patients, while fewer data are available regarding antiretroviral-naïve patients. Our objective was to evaluate the cardiovascular risk among naïve subjects examining traditional risk factors, immunovirologic parameters, assessing the Framingham risk score (FRS), and detecting the presence of subclinical carotid lesions by means of color Doppler ultrasonography. One hundred seventy-two antiretroviral-naïve patients underwent color Doppler ultrasonography.... Thirty-six patients (20.9%) had lesions at ultrasonographic investigation. The presence of lesions was significantly related to male gender (p = 0.005), age (p = 0.003), sedentary life (p = 0.05), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) group C or CD4(+) less than 150 cells/mm(3), and viral load (VL) > 100,000 copies per milliliter (p = 0.04). The presence of subclinical carotid lesions showed a highly significant direct association with the estimated FRS (p < 0.002). The presence of subclinical atheromasic lesion results was also high among antiretroviral-naïve patients.... Our data support the hypothesis that HIV infection per se is a risk factor for atherosclerosis. We recommend an ultrasonographic assessment both among patients with FRS 6% or more and among those in advanced stage of disease."

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