The scourge of HIV’s spread in the United States could soon begin to decline, according to a new study co-authored by a John Hopkins Bloomberg School department chair.
While other populations have seen alarming rises in their HIV rates, gay men still bear the burden of HIV more than other groups worldwide–in part due to discriminatory laws–according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins.
No hospital in the U.S. has ever performed an organ transplant from an HIV-positive patient to another HIV-positive person — until now.
Last year, Johns Hopkins physician Deborah Persaud made headlines all over the world when she announced that her team had effectively cured a newborn baby of HIV with an aggressive dose of post-birth antiretroviral drugs. The news was huge, and Persaud was named one of Time’s 10 most important people of 2013.
In observance of National HIV Testing Day, which is June 27, the Baltimore County Department of Health is offering free, HIV tests at seven sites on Saturday, June 14. These clinics are in addition to testing, which the department already provides year-round and free of charge.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1.1 million Americans have HIV/AIDS and an estimated one fifth—or 200,000 are not aware they are infected.
“The purpose of National HIV Testing Day is to learn your status. It doesn’t matter who you are. No one is immune from HIV and I encourage everyone to take the test and take control,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of Baltimore County Health and Human Services.
It was huge (huge!) news last year when a team of doctors led by Johns Hopkins virologist Dr. Deborah Persaud announced that they had effectively cured a baby born with HIV. This week, doctors announced that a second baby born with HIV was treated with a similar regimen — and after undergoing ultrasensitive tests to detect the virus, has also been declared HIV-free.
(Also – just to get this out of the way – you’re not technically supposed to say that these babies have been cured. They are still on antiretroviral drugs. However, if you test their blood, you don’t find any evidence of the virus. Persaud prefers the phrase “having sero-reverted to H.I.V.-negative.” But, well, that’s kind of clunky.)
Our congratulations go out to Johns Hopkins HIV expert Deborah Persaud, who’s been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. Persaud made the news earlier this year when her team announced the first functional cure of an infant born with HIV.
And this is why science is amazing: A team of virologists and other investigators from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported yesterday that they’ve achieved the first “functional cure” of HIV in an infant who was born with the disease.
Mr. Gates isn’t the only Bill investing in the future of public health; a certain former president has gotten into the act, and he’s joining forces with Johns Hopkins to find solution-oriented approaches to expand access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Former president Bill Clinton founded the Clinton Health Access Initiative back in 2002, but this year is the first that CHAI has offered fellowships to Johns Hopkins undergrads and grad students, in part because the university has a well-regarded School of Public Health and an undergraduate major in the discipline.
The inaugural fellows, Lauren Brown and Emily Chien, will set out on a semester-long placement at one of CHAI’s overseas sites. Lauren Brown, who’ll be working in Lesotho, got her bachelor’s in public health last week, while Chien (who’ll be posted in Uganda) has a few more degrees under her belt: a master’s from Bloomberg, an MBA from Hopkins’ Carey Business School, and an undergrad degree in biology from UCLA. Both women will be working with programs that are implementing a new technology that is supposed to measure HIV patients’ CD4 counts without having to send blood samples to (distant, costly) labs. If this new technology works as expected, people in rural areas will gain access to more nuanced treatment, thus reducing mortality.