BY HIV Plus Editors
October 29 2009 12:00 AM ET
Sex Causes Cancer?
Quite possibly, according to two new studies. Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research say that at least half of all throat cancers are linked to oral transmission of HPV, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. A separate study in the Journal of Clinical Pathology links two particular human papillomavirus strains to half of all penile cancer cases. These studies suggest that more education needs to be done to encourage greater use of both male and female condoms, particularly for oral sex.
You Booze, You Lose
AIDS experts have long warned that alcohol use affects adherence to antiretroviral therapy, and now researchers at the University of Washington have discovered just how strong a role booze plays in sticking to a medication regimen. Their analysis of studies of more than 25,000 HIVers has shown that people who drink are 50% less likely to be adherent, which the researchers quantify as taking medications as directed 90% to 100% of the time. Poor adherence can lead to the development of drug-resistant virus and, ultimately, faster disease progression.
Half a Bandwagon?
While developing nations implement sweeping male-circumcision programs based on data showing the procedure cuts a heterosexual man's HIV risk by 60% or more, U.S. health officials are only now starting to recognize its potential as a prevention method. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in August that it may for the first time recommend circumcision for all newborn boys in the United States to lower their HIV risks later in life. But there is a significant caveat. Circumcision doesn't help the most-affected group of Americans'gay and bisexual men'primarily because most men who have sex with men engage in multiple high-risk sexual activities.
Yeah! Take That, HIV!
Researchers have isolated two new antibodies that in lab tests not only completely cripple HIV's ability to infect human cells but also target a portion of the virus that scientists say may be its Achilles' heel. The newly discovered broadly neutralizing antibodies, called PG9 and PG16, disable a key HIV protein that'unlike the rest of the virus'is unable to mutate to develop defenses against immune system attacks. Researchers hope their findings lead to a preventive vaccine that stimulates bNAb development.
Gay Dudes Get It Bad
It's long been known that gay and bisexual men bear the brunt of the U.S. AIDS epidemic, but researchers now know how disproportionately hard-hit they are. Data from the National HIV Prevention Conference indicate that men who have sex with men contract HIV at a rate 50 times higher than women and hetero men. Worse yet, MSM of color, particularly black men, have even higher rates.