Arsenic in water ups TB risk, Gel prevents HIV-like infection in monkeys and more

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The following is a collection of scientific articles making headlines in HIV/TB this week:

Gel prevents SHIV infection in monkeys: A recent article in PLoS One shows that rhesus macaques protected with an antiretroviral/zinc combination gel experienced complete protection (21 of 21 monkeys) from vaginal SHIV (similar to HIV) for  up to 24 hours after two weeks of daily application. The MIV-150/zinc acetate gel and a zinc acetate gel “represent a novel advancement, identifying microbicdes that do not contain antiviral agents used to treat HIV infection and which can be used repeatedly and independently of coitus,” according to the study authors.

Maternal TB a risk factor for PMTCT of HIV: In an article in the current issue of Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID), Amita Gupta, MD, of Johns Hopkins University and a team of researchers report findings that maternal TB is a risk factor for mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV. Adjusting for maternal factors, the study of 783 mothers found that those with maternal TB were 2.51 times more likely to transmit HIV to their children than mothers without TB.

Also in this issue of JID, Dr. Ben Marais of Stellenbosch University in South Africa discusses the impact of tuberculosis on maternal and child health, looking primarily at the lack of public awareness of the findings of Dr. Gupta et. al. – the risk TB may enhance MTCT of HIV and disease progression, including the fact that maternal viral load and CD4 cell count were strongly associated with MTCT of HIV in the study.

TB patients more prone to lung cancer: An article in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology reports that contracting pulmonary TB is associated with increased risk of developing lung cancers. The study finds that lung cancer incidence was eleven times higher in patients with TB than those without, and that risk might increase further for those with coexisting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other smoking-related cancers.

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