NAIROBI, 27 June 2011 (PlusNews) - Certain antiretroviral (ARV) drugs commonly used in the developing world may be responsible for premature ageing, according to the authors of a new study published in the journal, Nature Genetics. Newer, less toxic but more expensive ARVs are more commonly used in the Western world.
Nucleoside analogue reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) - including Zidovudine, Lamivudine and Abacavir - have enabled millions of people living with HIV to prolong their lives. The UN World Health Organization has recommended that countries phase out Stavudine, an NRTI commonly used in Africa, due to long-term, irreversible side effects.
"We noticed that people in their 40s who had been on NRTIs for the past several years had signatures of ageing in their muscles commonly found in healthy people in their 70s and 80s," said Prof Patrick Chinnery of the University of Newcastle in the UK, one of the study's lead authors.
The researchers studied skeletal muscle from 33 HIV-infected adults, all aged 50 years or under, and 10 uninfected control subjects of comparable age. They found that in patients on NRTI treatment there was an expansion in mutations of mitochondrial DNA - the energy-producing part of the cell - similar to the mutations found in healthy older individuals.
"What we saw in our study is similar to patterns described by people who have been on ART [antiretroviral therapy] for a long time," said Chinnery.
Studies have found that despite a significant drop in mortality, people living with HIV are often affected by an increased risk of non-AIDS complications, including osteoporosis and heart attacks, which undermine their life-expectancy.
"The findings suggest that we need to look carefully at the effects of these drugs because some of the diseases caused by the abnormalities - diabetes, heart failure and so on - are serious and can cause progressive disability," Chinnery noted.
"But at the same time, clearly the patients need their drugs in order to keep them alive... but our study suggests that it may be beneficial to move to newer classes of drugs."
Chinnery said there was a need to conduct prospective studies on the likely effects of long-term use of different ARVs in order to catch and address potentially harmful side effects.
In March, at the United Nations in New York this year, the Commission on the Status of Women marked the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. There was a short political declaration adopted on the second day of the Commission, which reaffirmed the commitments made at Beijing and called for actions towards implementation. There were 7 resolutions introduced:
1. HIV and AIDS, Women and the Girl Child
2. Women’s Economic Empowerment
3. Eliminating Maternal Mortality and Morbidity through the Empowerment of Women
4. Ending Female Genital Mutilation
5. Release of women and children taken hostage
6. The situation of and assistance to Palestinian women
7. Strengthening institutional arrangement of the UN for support of gender equality and the empowerment of women by consolidating the four existing offices into a composite entity [Gender Equality Architecture Reform]
In Namibia, HIV-positive women are being tricked into sterilisation. Is this a country desperate to curb Aids, or just a blatant human rights violation? Marion Stevens of the Women and HIV/AIDS Gauge, Health Systems Trust, came across this recent article, which exposes the reality of what’s happening in Namibia’s state hospitals.
The theme of AIDS 2010 is Rights Here, Right Now
President Bill Clinton and South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to Join 25,000 Scientists, People Living with HIV, and Other Stakeholders at XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria.
The Conference Will Explore Latest Developments in HIV Science, Emphasize the Importance of an Evidenced-based Response to HIV and Drug Policy, and Urge World Leaders to Follow Through on Commitment to Universal Access
More information: http://www.aids2010.org/
Cape Town, South Africa will host the 13th International Congress on Medical Informatics from the 12 - 15 of September 2010.
This will be the first time MEDINFO is held in Africa. It promises to boost exposure to grassroots healthcare delivery and the underpinning health information systems. This will open the door to new academic partnerships into the future and help to nurture a new breed of health informaticians.
More information: http://www.medinfo2010.org/