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Cancer Channel
Reported December 5, 2012

Cancer Killing Cap!--Research Summary

BACKGROUND:   Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS.  The disease weakens a person’s ability to fight infections and cancer.  HIV attacks and destroys a type of white blood cells called CD4 (or T-cell).  The main purpose of the T-cell is to fight disease.  AIDS is the more advanced stage of HIV infection.  When the T-cell count drops too low, the infected person loses the ability to fight off infection.  Approximately 1,000,000 people in the US have been diagnosed with AIDS since it was first discovered in 1981.  An estimated 583,298 people have died from this disease in the US.  A person can get HIV when an infected person’s body fluids enter their bloodstream. (Source: webmd.com)

RISK FACTORS:  The most common ways people get HIV are from sharing needles to take drugs, having unprotected sex with an infected person, receiving a blood transfusion from an infected person, or born from a mother who was infected.  Common myths about how one can become infected are touching or hugging an infected person, public bathrooms, swimming pools, sharing cups, sharing telephones, and bug bites.  The only way to tell if you are infected is to take an HIV test.  Signs that HIV is turning into AIDS include: a fever that will not break, sweating while sleeping, feeling tired all the time, feeling sick all the time, losing weight, oral thrush, and swollen glands. (Source: webmd.com)

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a new controversial breakthrough has people talking.  The FDA approved a drug treatment called Truvada.  Truvada is already approved for the treatment of HIV in infected patients.  It lowers the amount of virus circulating in people’s blood.  Now clinical trials are showing that it can also protect those who are not infected who are in the high risk group of people if they take the drug before and after exposure.  On one side of this controversy, it prevents people from becoming infected, people who are in a relationship with someone infected by HIV or are engaged with high-risk behaviors like IV drugs.  For example, in one study healthy gay men who took Truvada daily lowered their risk of becoming infected by 42%.  In another study involving heterosexual couples where one partner was infected, the uninfected partner experienced a 75% lower risk.  So then why is Truvada controversial?  Experts believe that healthy people may not take the drug correctly causing HIV to become resistant to the medication.  Also officials worry that it would promote unsafe and risky behaviors among the HIV community.  Patients will, however, receive a comprehensive HIV protection plan involving regular HIV testing to ensure safety.  (Source: truvada.com)

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