January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010
Criminal HIV Charges in Europe

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope your weekend is off to a safe and great start.

The weather is beautiful here in south Florida and I am busy getting ready for another trip to Jacksonville tomorrow. I will have a very busy week seeing doctors, the dentist and packing up the apartment before moving on the following Sunday.

I came across some interesting information yesterday. I know I have spoken a few times about people with HIV being prosecuted for not disclosing their HIV status when sleeping with sexual partners. I think everyone knows my views on disclosure and our responsibility to let our sexual partners know our status so they can make an informed decision.

Well I came across the following article about prosecution of someone with HIV in Europe.

The biggest HIV news in the last week was the conviction of a man in Scotland for infecting his partner with HIV.

He was also convicted for having unprotected sex with three other women without telling them he had HIV, even though none of these women became infected with the virus.

This is a legal first in the UK.

The convictions were for the Scottish offence of reckless and culpable conduct. There have now been three convictions for reckless HIV transmission in Scotland.

Scotland has a different legal system to England and Wales. In England, you can only be prosecuted if unprotected sex occurs without disclosure and HIV transmission takes place.

The latest case received a lot of stigmatising coverage in the press.

There’s now a lot of evidence that shows HIV treatment can mean that people with HIV can live a near-normal lifespan. There was no mention of this in articles on the case which routinely described HIV as ‘deadly’.

The woman who was infected by the man in this case was pregnant at the time of her diagnosis. After learning that she had HIV she terminated the pregnancy.

HIV treatment during pregnancy, an appropriately managed birth, and not breastfeeding can reduce the risks of mother to child HIV transmission to very low levels. Once again, press coverage made no mention of this.

National AIDS Trust (NAT) has a trained group of HIV positive volunteers called Press Gang who respond to inaccurate coverage of HIV in the media. For information about joining Press Gang, visit the NAT website.

If you are have any questions about HIV and criminal law, a good place to seek support is the Terrence Higgins Trust helpline, THT Direct. It can be contacted on 0845 12 21 200.

When to start HIV treatment – HIV’s early effect on the immune system

There is a lot of debate about the best time to start HIV treatment.

Current UK guidance says that anyone who is ill because of HIV should start treatment. It is also recommended that people with a CD4 cell count of around 350 cells/mm3 should start treatment.

It is especially recommended for people who have other serious health conditions such as hepatitis B or C, kidney disease or a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Some doctors favor starting treatment at higher CD4 cell counts. Indeed, US guidelines issued at the end of last year favor treatment at CD4 cell counts between 350 and 500 cells/mm3 and do not rule out starting treatment at even higher CD4 cell counts.

Some new research points to who may benefit from earlier treatment.

It shows that HIV can cause some very subtle changes to the immune system soon after infection.

CD4 cell counts are routinely measured as part of HIV care. But they are only one of a large number of immune system cells.

Some of these are so called memory cells. These are cells that the immune system created in response to past infections that are then stored by the body and wake up when they are needed. The body also produces new, or naive, cells to fight infections.

Researchers found that people with larger number of naive and memory CD8 cells had slower HIV disease progression.

Other important factors associated with prognosis were activation of the immune system and the overall number of HIV infected cells.

The researchers recommend that tests for these markers should be included in routine HIV care.

They also believe that their research indirectly supports starting HIV treatment earlier.

So what are your thoughts? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab