New HIV/AIDS Science Explains Origin and Chimpanzee Connection
May 1, 2001
A new twist on the theory that vaccines may have triggered the AIDS pandemic is advanced in the May 2001 issue of the scientific journal of Medical Hypotheses by an independent investigator and author of a bestselling book on the subject, Dr. Leonard Horowitz.
The report explains for the first time the link between the human AIDS virus, HIV, and the chimpanzee immunodeficiency virus. Scientists who previously considered the possibility that polio vaccines may have contributed to the initial African outbreak must take heed.
This new theory proposes that HIV/AIDS was triggered by hepatitis B (HB) vaccines, partly developed in chimpanzees, given to gay men in New York City and Blacks in central Africa during the early to mid-1970s among persons who received suspected polio vaccines a decade earlier.
Dr. Horowitz, who holds a post-doctoral degree in public health from Harvard University, presented his preliminary findings at the XI International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver in 1996. Last November, his controversial thesis attracted a standing room only audience in Boston at the annual American Public Health Association conference.
The subject of a recent BBC documentary,his publication in Medical Hypotheses underlies widespread suspicions, especially among minority populations, that HIV/AIDS was vaccine induced.
Based on a three year study of the pandemic's origin relayed in his American bestseller, Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola -- Nature, Accident or Intentional? (Tetrahedron Press, 1999), Dr.Horowitz determined that risky pilot HB vaccine trials involved growinghepatitis viruses in chimpanzees commonly known to be contaminated withretroviruses related to HIV.
These findings scientifically explain for the first time how the chimpanzee AIDS virus (SIVcpz), closely related to HIV's gene sequence, suddenly jumped species to humans simultaneously on two far removed continents. Four lots of HB vaccine containing 200,000 human doses, believed to be contaminated with gene sequences common to HIV/SIVcpz, were prepared by passing live HB viruses, grown in chimpanzees, to polio vaccine recipients previously exposed to monkey cancer viruses already suspected of playing a role in initiating AIDS. The final preparations were injected into gay men in New York City and Blacks in Central Africa between 1974 and 1975.
According to several investigators, this may best explain how and why there was a sudden simultaneous outbreak of at least four major HIV strains, on two far removed continents, in two demographically distinct populations, in the late 1970s, corresponding to the only complete virus discoveries.
Dr. Horowitz's book gained him the 1999 "Author of the Year Award" from the World Natural Health Organization. His work has gained increasing respect from members in the U.S. Congress and the medical scientific communities, some of whom are calling for a reevaluation of AIDS's origin with respect to vaccines.
AIDS killing millions of Africa's farm workers-FAO
ROME, Sept 11 (Reuters) - HIV/AIDS is devastating farming and worsening hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations world food body said on Tuesday.
In Africa's 25 most affected countries, seven million farm workers had died from AIDS since 1985 and 16 million more might die within the next 20 years, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report entitled The State of Food and Agriculture 2001.
"FAO expects the HIV/AIDS epidemic to exacerbate food insecurity," the report said.
"It is clear that the epidemic is undermining the progress made in agriculture and rural development over the last 40 years."
Africa, with about 10 percent of the world's population, accounts for nine out of each 10 new cases of HIV infection.
Eighty three percent of all AIDS deaths are in Africa.
The FAO said recent UN studies showed output by smallholders in parts of Zimbabwe might have fallen by 50 percent over the past five years, mainly as a result of AIDS.
Labour shortages were particularly serious for agriculture since production was seasonal and timing was crucial.
A shortfall in household labour meant more land became fallow and the household's output declined.
AIDS RAVAGES WORKFORCE
HIV/AIDS was also having a big impact on agricultural estates, FAO said.
"Evidence from one sugar estate in Kenya suggests that the epidemic adds substantially to costs," the report said.
"Profitability has been undermined by increased absenteeism owing to sickness, substantially reduced productivity and higher overtime costs as other workers replace their sick colleagues."
Over an eight-year period in the 1990s, spending on funerals and health costs at the estate rose fivefold and tenfold respectively.
The company, which was not identified, had estimated that about three-quarters of all illness among employees was related to HIV infection.
HIV/AIDS HITS LIVESTOCK SECTOR
The impact on the livestock sector was also severe.
Evidence from Namibia and Uganda indicated that livestock was often sold to support the sick and to cover funeral expenses.
"Selling livestock eats into a household's savings, making them more vulnerable to new shocks," the report said.
"The drop in livestock numbers means a reduced availability of organic material and hence increased pressure on soil fertility."
Recent evidence from Tanzania suggested that food spending by poor households can drop by nearly a third after the death of a young adult.
Aids Kills Three Times More Than Malaria - Report
A newly released report on health by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that AIDS has indeed surpassed malaria as the leading cause of death in Africa.
The World Health Report 2001 launched Oct. 4 in Geneva indicated that in regions with high child mortality and very high adult mortality rates, in which Uganda lies, AIDS is killing thrice as many people as malaria.
According to the report yet to be officially launched in Uganda, AIDS has killed 57,046,000 (16.5%) of the population compared to malaria (17,832,000 deaths) and respiratory infections (17,823,000).
The WHO country representative for Uganda, Dr. Walker Oladapo, explained that the increase is only among adults, but malaria remains the leading killer disease among children.
"I cannot tell the exact figure for Uganda, but AIDS deaths in adults are more than malaria. The prevalence rate is coming down, but those who have it don't cure. What we are seeing today is the damage of yesterday and it will be like that for a very long time until the disease is brought under control," Oladapo told The Monitor on phone last evening. Until recent reports, malaria has been known to kill more than any other disease, including HIV/AIDS.
The report shows that Africa's burden of disease is still very big compared to other continents, with communicable diseases, maternal conditions and nutritional deficiencies being the leading cause of mortality and morbidity. This category, which contributes 41.5 percent of the world's disease burden, is responsible for 129,244,000 deaths in Africa alone.
Due to this disease burden, for every 1,000 Ugandans above the age of 15 years, more than half will not celebrate their 59th birthday, according to the report on the world's health status.
If the report findings are to be followed, on average 592 Ugandans for every thousand will die between their fifteenth and fifty-ninth birthdays, making the country's health picture look grim.
The report, which puts Ugandans' life expectancy at an average of 44.05 years, indicates that more men are likely to die before they make 59 years compared to women.
Uganda's figures give a clear picture of the other countries in the region where countries like Rwanda record life expectancy at birth as low as 39.5 years, with 633 Rwandese per thousand above fifteen years expected to die before they make sixty.
The report also says that for every thousand children born as of last year, 158 will not live to be five years old in this country where, by 1998, every Ugandan spent just $11 (Shs 19,140) on health annually.
The report showed that violence and war also contributed about six million deaths in Africa.
This year's report focuses a lot on mental health and recognises Uganda's transformation in psychiatry by taking mental disabilities more seriously.
HIV/AIDS in Pregnant Women Down By Half
The Monitor, Kampala
October 30, 2001
Uganda now boasts of a 50 percent decline in HIV/AIDS prevalence among women attending antenatal clinics, the Commissioner Health Services (Community Health) at the ministry of Health has said.
Dr. Sam Okware said the HIV cases that were being recorded at various antenatal clinics over the last few years had drastically dropped from 30 percent to 6%.
He was opening a five-day workshop for African scientists and technicians at Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe yesterday.
Okware told participants the epidemic's situation in Uganda was once so bad that it claimed ten of the twelve people with whom he started the first AIDS Control Programme at the ministry in the late 1980s. He however said although Uganda was recording a success story, it still had many HIV cases and more efforts were needed.
"Research and development are vital in whatever we do to enable us to walk and not crawl; to enable us to run and not walk," Okware said, adding that with all the progress in AIDS care and prevention, the ultimate solution would be a vaccine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr. Walker Oladapo supported the idea of carrying out vaccine trials in Africa, since that was where the problem was biggest. He urged participants to take advantage of the technology, and put it into use in their laboratories for better solutions to the epidemic.
The workshop, which closes on Friday, drew participants from 11 African countries, who will be trained in application of a detuned assay as a tool of estimating incident cases for future vaccine trials.
The organiser of the workshop Dr. Pontiano Kaleebu of UVRI, told The Monitor the detuned assay is meant to differentiate between patients who were recently infected with HIV, from those who have lived with the virus for a long time. He said the tool, which is already applicable in the Western world, would help determine areas of high new incident cases and subsequently determine how the vaccine is taken.
Six in Thousand Ugandans Contract HIV Every Year
The Monitor, Kampala
November 3, 2001
The mean age of infection with HIV has risen again from the earlier projected 22 years to an average of 34 years, indicating further successes in management of the epidemic in Uganda.
This, coupled with an estimated six people in every thousand getting fresh infections with HIV, has been declared the first evidence of a significant fall in HIV-1 incidence in a rural adult population in Africa.
The findings were presented yesterday at a one-day symposium at Hotel Africana on Public Health Problems in Uganda and Emerging Diseases. It was organised in memory of the founder of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Daan Mulder who died of cancer in 1997.
Presenting findings of the MRC, the Director Prof. Jimmy Whitworth told participants the council had studied 9,827 adults in Kyamulibwa - Masaka, over a period of ten years. Whitworth said the results showed drastic drops in both HIV/AIDS prevalence and incidence in this population, which he called representative of what is in the rest of Uganda.
He attributed the positive changes mainly to behavioral change, saying there was no evidence of the role of other factors.
"The results give hope to AIDS Control Programmes in African countries that the AIDS epidemic can be controlled using behavioral change messages," he said.
The symposium opened by Commissioner Health Services (Community Health) Dr. Sam Okware also heard from the Director of Naguru Medical Laboratories Dr. Y. Mpairwe, who said studies from his centre on the contrary showed a threatening rise in infections during the year 2001, after constant low trends starting in 1998. Whitworth advised government to watch the Kampala results presented, since they were under normal circumstances supposed to tally with the Kyamulibwa results.
"The last thing we want is to see these hard-won reductions turn around and go up again," he said.
Another scientist from MRC Dr. D. Morgan said Ugandans living with HIV could now live up to an average of 9.8 years before succumbing to the disease, a median survival near that of the industrialised countries. An HIV patient in the West survives on average up to 13 years. She said HIV patients in the study were also found to live up to 9.4 years before developing AIDS. From her findings in Kyamulibwa, Morgan said 57% of people infected with HIV stay up to two years without showing any symptoms of the disease, due to improved health care and the symptoms being common even among HIV negative people.
The symposium also discussed recent malaria and Ebola outbreaks in Uganda.
You can live for over 10 years with HIV Six in Thousand Ugandans Contract HIV Every Year
©The Monitor, Kampala
John Ricks Kayizzi
November 14, 2001
The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is one of the biggest threats to the survival and prosperity of the human race in the 21st century.
Research has revealed that more than 70 percent of Human Immuno Deficiency Virus (HIV) infections worldwide are estimated to result from sex between men and women.
The AIDS disease arises when the HIV virus attacks the nervous system of the victim over a certain period of time.
Research has shown that 10 percent of infection can be traced to sexual transmission between men, and 5 percent due to needle-sharing by people who inject drugs. Four out of five injecting drug users are men.
The Ministry of Health, which is one of the government bodies spear heading the fight against this deadly disease in Uganda, has endeavored to undertake various programmes in order to curb the further spread of this infection.
The ministry says that approximately one-quarter of those living with HIV/AIDS are men under 25 years of age.
According to a statement recently issued by the ministry of Health, research so far conducted suggests that men tend to have more sexual partners during their lifetime than women.
"Studies show that young men lack sexual health education (which can provide them with an understanding of their own bodies, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections)," it said, adding that young people have an increased risk of contracting HIV if they don't get their sexual health information from unreliable sources.
It further adds that while parents often provide young girls with some sexual health education (usually relating to menstruation and pregnancy), boys rarely receive any.
"Most Ugandan societies assign the role of bread winner to men and confer special privileges upon both men and boys, compared to women and girls. These privileges often include the right to have sex outside of longer-term relationships or to engage in extra-marital relationships, which can increase the risk of HIV infection for both men and women," said the statement.
The ministry said that generally, men tend not to look after their own health, and they take more risks, including exposure to HIV infection.
One of the bitter facts is that for both boys and girls, the age at which they have their first sexual experience correlates with the age at which they have their first experience with alcohol and/or other mind-altering substances.
Much drinking takes place in bars, at parties and in nightclubs where people are often searching for sexual partners. Research suggests that excessive use of alcohol and other drugs, including the so-called 'party drugs', are often linked to unsafe sex, and drinking has been associated with people having more than one sexual partner.
A recently released report by the Medical Research Council (MRC) revealed that the mean age of infection with HIV has risen again from the earlier projected 22 years to an average of 34 year, indicating further successes in management of the epidemic in Uganda.
This, coupled with an estimated six people in every thousand getting fresh infections with HIV, has been declared the first evidence of a significant fall in HIV-1 incidence in the rural adult population in Africa.
Officials at the MRC attributed the positive changes mainly to
behavioural change, saying there was no evidence of the role of other factors.
Officials further said Ugandans living with HIV could now live up to an average of 9.8 years before succumbing to the disease, a median survival near that of the industrialised countries. An HIV patient in the west survives an average of 13 years. HIV patients in the study were also found to live up to 9.4 years before developing AIDS. Findings also shows that 57 percent of people infected with HIV stay up to two years without showing any symptoms of the disease, due to improved health care and the symptoms being common even among HIV negative people.
AIDS threatens Africa's renaissance dream - U.N.
By Wambui Chege
November 28, 2001
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Like the angel of death, AIDS is sweeping across sub-Saharan Africa and is now the biggest killer on the world's poorest continent, according to a United Nations report released on Wednesday.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region worst hit by the pandemic with 70 percent or 28.1 million people infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS at the end of this year out of an estimated 40 million infected people worldwide.
"AIDS has become the biggest threat to the continent's development and its quest to bring about an African renaissance," UNAIDS said in the report, referring to an ambitious plan for continental economic recovery.
The U.N estimates some 3.4 million sub-Saharan Africans became infected with the virus in 2001 out of an estimated total of five million new infections worldwide. Of these, more than half are women.
"Without adequate treatment and care, most of them will not survive the next decade," added the annual report by the U.N. AIDS umbrella group, released simultaneously around the world.
The disease is wiping out families, leaving orphans and destitute relatives behind. In many countries, agricultural output has fallen, exacerbating the risk of hunger.
"In Sub-Saharan Africa the economic hardships of the past two decades have left three-quarters of the continent's people surviving on less than two dollars a day," UNAIDS said.
Some countries in the region could lose more than 20 percent of their GDP by 2020 because of AIDS, it said.
"It's grim, very grim for our continent," John Ohiorhenuan, U.N. Development Programme resident representative in South Africa told Reuters.
Health experts attributed the rise in new infections to a lack of change in sexual behaviour despite publicity campaigns to raise awareness and increase the use of condoms.
"The majority of our people don't want to believe it could affect them. They think they can do it just once and get away with it. Education does not help, we have seen," Ohiorhenuan added.
SOUTH AFRICA WORST AFFECTED
Southern Africa remains the worst affected area. The highest number of HIV infections in the world live in South Africa, with the U.N. estimating that one in nine or 4.7 million people in South Africa live with the virus.
Elsewhere, a rise in new infections was recorded in West Africa where several countries including Nigeria and Cameroon hit the five percent mark of HIV infected sufferers, signalling the disease was exploding into an epidemic.
But a fall in the rate of new infections in Uganda and Zambia held out some hope. Thanks to a sustained AIDS prevention programme, young people in Zambia were having sex less frequently, had fewer partners and used condoms more often.
"HIV prevalence is declining among urban residents in Zambia, especially among young women aged 15-24," the report said.
In Uganda, almost 98 percent of sex workers surveyed last year used condoms. The number of pregnant women infected with HIV had fallen to 11.25 percent in 2000 from nearly 30 percent in 1992, thanks to a massive education campaign.
In contrast, South African health officials said their greatest challenge was getting couples to use condoms.
"People do not use the condom, even the most educated. The biggest challenge is in so-called stable relationships where it's difficult to negotiate condom use," Nono Simelela, chief director in charge of HIV/AIDS at the national department of health, told reporters.
Government Allowed to Make Aids Drugs
The World Trade Organisation ( WTO) has allowed Uganda and other developing countries that declared AIDS a national emergency to import and manufacture cheaper generic anti-retroviral HIV drugs.
Dr Kihumuro Apuuli, the Director General of Uganda Aids Commission told a press conference yesterday in Kampala that the decision is intended to arrest a global HIV/AIDS catastrophe.
He said the new arrangement is to be referred to as the Trade Related Intellectual Rights ( TRIPS).
Kihumuro said the arrangement would also enable such countries to manufacture tuberculosis and malaria drugs.
"It means that big multinational companies which carried out research on HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral have lifted patent rights to those countries, including Uganda, to import and make copies of their drugs," Kihumuro said.
Anti-retroviral drugs are given to HIV/AIDS patients to boost their immunity and prolong life. Over 5000 Ugandans are using the drugs.
However, the majority of infected people cannot afford the cost of the drugs. Each dose costs about sh200,000 per month.
Kihumuro said the offer would enable the cost to be lowered if the drugs are locally manufactured.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the director general for health services, recently said many local pharmaceutical firms had applied for licences from the government to manufacture anti-retroviral drugs locally.