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Top 5 Contagion&reg News Articles for June 2017

New HPV vaccine recommendations from the World Health Organization, information on a new once-daily treatment for HIV, the potential underestimation of tick-borne diseases in the Western United States, norovirus outbreaks in California schools, and how reservoirs of latent HIV hinder the quest for a cure, make up the Top 5 articles for the month of June 2017.

#5: WHO Releases HPV Vaccine Recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a position paper regarding recommendations for vaccination against the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States: human papillomavirus (HPV).

Because HPV-related diseases, such as cervical cancer, are a global health concern, WHO recommends that HPV vaccines should be “included in national immunization programs.” In addition, cervical cancer accounts for a staggering majority (84%) of HPV-associated cancers, and therefore, “should remain the priority for HPV immunization,” the authors write. The best way to prevent cervical cancer? Immunizing girls before they are sexually active.

WHO recommends that HPV vaccines should be incorporated into a “coordinated and comprehensive strategy.”

Continue reading about WHO’s HPV vaccine recommendations here.

#4: FDA Approves a Once-Daily Treatment Option for HIV-1

The new approval of Isentress HD was supported by findings from the ONCEMRK phase 3 clinical trial, which included treatment-naïve patients with HIV-1. Patients were treated with once-daily Isentress HD 1200-mg (administered as two 600-mg tablets) or Isentress 400-mg twice per day plus emtricitabine + tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Although Isentress and Isentress HD can achieve viral suppression, the drugs do not cure HIV or AIDS, according to the press release.

At 48 weeks, approximately 89% of patients treated with Isentress HD 1200-mg achieved viral suppression of HIV RNA <40 copies/mL, compared with 88% of patients treated with Isentress 400-mg twice per day, according to the study.

Through 48 weeks, only 3% of patients in both treatment groups discontinued therapy due to adverse events. This suggests that the drugs were, overall, well-tolerated. Adverse reactions of all intensities reported in the clinical trial include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and decreased appetite.

More on the new once-daily treatment is available here.

#3: Risk of Tick-Borne Disease May Be "Drastically Underestimated" in Western US

With around 300,000 cases reported every year, Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is one of the most commonly reported vector-borne diseases in the United States. Because of this high incidence, and the difficulty that often comes with diagnosing and treating the disease, researchers are channeling their efforts into learning more about Lyme disease and the ticks that transmit it.

At the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Microbe 2017 meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, Nathan C. Nieto, PhD from Northern Arizona University, delivered a presentation on how citizen science—a research collaboration between scientists and volunteers to answer “real-world” questions—has helped identify the distribution of ticks and tick-borne disease.

In their research, the researchers mention that although cases frequently occur in the northwest and upper mid-western regions of the United States, the disease is hyperendemic in a specific state: California. In this state, the primary vector responsible for transmitting the disease is the western-blacklegged tick, or Ixodes pacificus.

Read more about the risk of tick-borne diseases in the Western United States, here.

#2: Norovirus Outbreaks Take California Schools by Storm

The recent outbreaks came following norovirus outbreaks earlier this spring in Santa Monica and East Bay area schools, in which hundreds of students as well as many of their family members became ill. The recent series of outbreaks in California affected at least 13 schools in the Bay Area’s Santa Clara County, leaving hundreds of students sick and causing schools to cancel after-school programs and extracurricular activities.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) urged any students experiencing norovirus symptoms to stay home while sick and to avoid contact with others for 2 days after their symptoms subside. “Norovirus outbreaks usually have an annual peak like we are seeing now. They can be particularly large and disruptive in schools, affecting both students and teachers,” said CDPH director Karen Smith, MD, MPH, in a press release. “Norovirus is very infectious and can spread rapidly wherever people congregate and share food and bathroom facilities. Fortunately, most people with norovirus infection will recover quickly, usually in 1 to 3 days.”

Learn more about the norovirus outbreaks in California, here.

#1: Reservoirs of Latent HIV Hinder Quest for a Cure

HIV has remained stubbornly impervious to a complete cure, and researchers have uncovered new evidence that may explain this problem, at least in part. In patients who are being treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART), it appears that a latent form of HIV residing in immune cells can continue to reproduce, potentially reactivating the virus in the body and offering resistance against ART.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, this latent HIV has an extremely long half-life, presenting a significant obstacle to complete eradication of the disease.

To learn more about the reservoir of latent HIV in immune cells, the research team grew CD4 cells from the blood of 12 HIV-positive patients who were on ART. The cells were then stimulated with rounds of various chemicals to induce them to divide and proliferate. Each time the cells were stimulated they were split into 2 groups, one of which was the control group. The other group of cells would then go through the stimulation process again. The researchers discovered that the stimulated cells were able to proliferate without releasing active HIV, but that the new cells created from this division actually did emit active HIV.

Continue reading about reservoirs of latent HIV, here.