World AIDS day on December 1 offers a time to reflect on the AIDS epidemic and the progress made toward preventing the transmission of the HIV virus. This year, research from the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention made strides in prevention of the passage of HIV to infants from their HIV-positive mothers.
Researchers from the Breastfeeding, Antiretroviral and Nutrition in HIV (BAN) study are investigating whether nutritional supplements and antiretroviral therapies help prevent the transmission of the HIV virus from breastfeeding mothers to their infants.
They presented research demonstrating that giving daily antiretroviral syrup to breastfeeding infants or treating their HIV-infected mothers with highly active antiretroviral drugs is safe and effective in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission through breast milk at the 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Cape Town, South Africa in July.
The BAN project is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is part of the UNC Project-Malawi.
These findings are significant in HIV/AIDS prevention. In Africa, between one third and one half of infant HIV infections are due to breastfeeding. According to a report by the UNC School of Medicine, HIV-infected women in resource-constrained areas must face a 20 percent chance of transmitting the virus to their babies through breastfeeding or choose costly formula, which relies on an unsafe water supply and carries a higher risk of morbidity and mortality.
“This is an exciting development,” said Charles van der Horst, M.D., a professor in the UNC School of Medicine and the study’s lead investigator. “We may be able to spare mothers in the developing world a horrible choice by offering them an effective method for preventing transmission of HIV during breastfeeding.”
Another achievement to celebrate in the fight against AIDS is that awareness events like World AIDS Day, observed every year on December 1, have helped to educate the world about the epidemic and to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease.
UNC-Chapel Hill will be hosting numerous events Monday, November 29 through Friday, December 4 to raise AIDS awareness including the UNC Center for AIDS research’s 11th annual World AIDS Day symposium, free walk-in HIV testing on campus and Condom Olympics, an event promoting sex positive information hosted by the Student Global AIDS Campaign and Campus Health Services. The internationally recognized symbol for AIDS awareness is a red ribbon, worn by people in support of those living with HIV and in remembrance of those who have died.
The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention addresses pressing health problems by collaborating with communities to conduct research, provide training, and translate research findings into policy and practice. The Center seeks to reduce health disparities through an emphasis on community-based participatory research to ensure that the community is involved in every stage of research. The CDC selected HPDP to be one of its first three Prevention Research Centers in 1985. Now comprised of 33 academic institutions, the PRC program is an interdependent network of community, academic and public health partners that conduct prevention research and promote practices proven to promote good health.
Events on the UNC-Chapel Hill Campus
- Tuesday, Dec. 1 World AIDS Day
Check out a special edition of The Daily Tar Heel today!
- 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 11th Annual Center for AIDS Research HIV/AIDS Symposium Room 136, Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building, School of Social Work, 325 Pittsboro Street This event is FREE and lunch will be provided. Register at http://cfar.med.unc.edu.
*HIV Testing in North Carolina, Peter Leone, MD
* Is Access to Medicines All We Got?: Human Rights and HIV Prevention, Benjamin Meier, JD
* Living Positively with HIV, Positive Persons Panel
* AIDS in Africa: A Peak that Can be Conquered, Charles van der Horst, MD
* Social and Behavioral Perspectives on HIV Prevention in the Dominican Republic, Claire Barrington, PhD
* Addressing Antiretroviral Challenges in the Developing World, Amanda Corbett
* Humanized BLT Mice as a Robust and Reliable Platform to Perform Preclinical HIV Prevention Studies, Paul Denton, PhD
* Insights into the HIV-host Relationship, John Coffin, PhD, Keynote Speaker, Special Advisor to the Director, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute
- 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free Walk-In HIV Testing Student Union Room 3102
Take control. Get tested.
* No blood or needles!
* Test results available same day
* Games and educational activities while you wait
* Free and open to all students, staff, faculty, and members of the broader community
Sponsored by UNC Campus Health Services.
Wednesday, Dec. 2
- 7 p.m. Condom Olympics
Condom races, trivia, sex positive information. Find a Condom Olympics question box at the testing event or at SGAC’s table in the Pit on December first to submit anonymous questions to be answered during the event. Hosted by the Student Global AIDS Campaign and Campus Health Services.
- 8 p.m. CUAB presents: Positively Naked