September 9, 2013. An HIV/AIDS vaccine candidate being developed by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University appears to have the ability to completely clear an AIDS-causing virus from the body.
”To date, HIV infection has only been cured in a very small number of highly publicized but unusual clinical cases in which HIV-infected individuals were treated with antiviral medicines very early after the onset of infection or [were given] a stem cell transplant to combat cancer. This latest research suggests that certain immune responses elicited by a new vaccine may also have the ability to completely remove HIV from the body,” according to Louis Picker, associate director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU. (See Module 6.)
In 2011 the United Nations estimated 34 million people worldwide were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and about 2.5 million became newly infected with HIV. Progress against the disease over the past ten years has been uneven. Since 2001 there has been a 50% or greater drop in new infections in twenty-five countries and there was a 42% drop in new infections in the Caribbean, which is the second most affected region in the world. Unfortunately, over the same period, in the Middle East and North Africa the number of new infections has increased by more than 35%, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also seen an increase (UNAIDS, 2012).
Worldwide, AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24% since 2005, and in 2011 were approximately 1.7 million. However, increases in those deaths have occurred in the same regions that have experienced an increase in new HIV infections: the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (UNAIDS, 2012).
In the United States, there are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV. The majority of cases are among men, accounting for about 73% of cases. Minorities are disproportionately affected by HIV, with African Americans accounting for 46% and Hispanics 18% of newly diagnosed HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases in 2008 (UNAIDS, 2009).
Through the end of 2010, Florida ranked third in the nation in the number of cumulative AIDS cases with 121,161 cases. In 2011 Florida was second among the states in numbers of new cases of HIV infection diagnosed, and third in the number of AIDS cases. Florida has five large metropolitan areas that have more AIDS cases individually than many states do as a whole.
In 2012, 5,388 cases of HIV infection and 2,775 AIDS cases were reported among adults. Both numbers reflected a small drop over those from 2011, which were 5,408 and 3,440 respectively. Women accounted for 22% of the 2012 HIV cases and 29% of the AIDS diagnoses, and the percentage of cases among females has been decreasing over the past ten years. The new AIDS cases were 54% black, 24% white, and 21% Hispanic, and these proportions have changed little over ten years (FDOH, 2012).
Hispanics, who make up 22% of Florida’s adult population, comprise 23% of the HIV cases and 21% of the AIDS cases. Although blacks are only 14% of Florida’s adult population, they account for 44% of the adult HIV infection cases and 53% of the adult AIDS cases reported in 2012. Black men, and especially black women, are significantly over-represented; the HIV case rate among black women 15 times that among white women (FDOH, 2012).
Since the peak year of 1995 there has been a 79% decline in deaths of Florida residents due to HIV. The number has continued to decline since 2007, and in 2012 there were 923 HIV-related deaths. However, HIV is still the sixth leading cause of death for 25 to 44 year olds. For blacks it is the fourth leading cause of death, but in 2010 that fell for the first time since 1988 from number 1 (FDOH, 2012.)