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 8.)
For the year 2011 the United Nations estimated 34 million people worldwide were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and about 2.5 million became newly infected. Progress against the disease over the past ten years has been uneven. Twenty-five countries have seen more than a 50% drop in infections since 2001, and there was a 42% drop in the Caribbean, which is the second most affected region in the world. Unfortunately, However, in the Middle East and North Africa the number of new infections increased by more than 35%, and Eastern Europe and Central Asia have also seen increases (UNAIDS, 2012).
Worldwide, deaths related to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the final stage of HIV-infection, have decreased by 24% since 2005, and in 2011 were approximately 1.7 million. However, increases in those deaths occurred in the same regions that experienced an increase in new HIV infections: the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (UNAIDS, 2012).
Data are incomplete as of 2013, but the United Nations estimated that in 2013 in the United States there would be approximately 1.3 million people living with HIV—about 1 million men and 300,000 women. The United Nations also estimated that 20,000 Americans would die from AIDS in 2013 (UNAIDS, 2013).
Through the end of 2010, Florida ranked third in the nation with 121,161 AIDS cases reported. 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. 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 reported were 54% black, 24% white, and 21% Hispanic, and these proportions have changed little over the past 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 (proportional to the Hispanic population).
Blacks represent only 14% of Florida’s adult population, however 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 in these statistics, with 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 disease. 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, having fallen from first in 2010 for the first time since 1988 (FDOH, 2012.)