Archive for the 'uk' Category

21
Oct
07

How HIV man became a proud dad

LIKE a lot of men, Perry Evans had always taken for granted that one day he would become a dad.

But at the young age of 24 his world came crashing down around him when doctors told him that he was HIV positive.

Perry, originally from Aberavon, Port Talbot, was a haemophiliac and had accidentally been infected with the virus by an NHS blood transfusion.

Not only did he think it would end his dreams of starting a family – but he thought he would have just a few years to live.

The 46-year old said: “When I found out I was HIV positive at the age of 24, I felt as if I’d been handed a death sentence.

“My future just disappeared – it was assumed I’d never have unprotected sex, never father children. Worst of all, I was told I’d only have another two to five years to live before dying a painful death.

“And in my head, those few years were going to be sexless and loveless.”

But rather than resigning himself to being ill, Perry put on a brave face and resolutely decided to make the best of his life.

He said: “It was actually my mum who took it hardest though.

“Because haemophilia is passed on maternally, she already felt guilty for my health problems.

“But I’ve always faced things head-on, and I quickly came to terms with it. What choice did I have? I realised HIV didn’t have to stop me living.”

Perry was keen to start a relationship, but was fully aware that a lot of girls might have been deterred by his illness.

But he soon fell for a woman called Heather, who was 22 at the time.

He said: “I dated a couple of girls, but because I’m a Christian sex was always something I was saving for marriage.

“It didn’t become an issue until I met Heather in 1987. I knew straight away she was special – that she could be the one. I told her about my HIV status on our second date.

“I would have been gutted if she’d turned round and said, ‘Sorry, I want a man who can give me kids,’ or didn’t want to know me because of the disease. But it was a risk I knew I had to take.”

Although Heather admits that she was hesitant to begin with, she also believed that the relationship was too special to pass by.

Perry said: “Thankfully for me, Heather was brilliant about it. She didn’t freak out, and she told me soon after I dropped the bombshell that she’d decided she wanted to give things a go.

“A year later, we were married. Thinking I only had five years, tops, to live, there was no point in us hanging round.

“Of course, I worried about leaving Heather a widow and taking away her chance of becoming a mum. But I figured she’d still be young enough to meet someone else after I’d gone.”

From the very beginning Perry and Heather were constantly told by doctors that they would never be able to have children.

But despite Perry’s deteriorating health, the couple were determined to give it a go. They had heard about a pioneering technique called ‘sperm washing’ that looked like it could give them the chance to be parents.

Perry said: “Before I got HIV, I’d always thought I’d be a dad. But it was something I’d learnt not to think about. And so when I heard about sperm washing, I was really excited.”

The process allows doctors to separate the male’s sperm from the HIV virus. The sperm is then injected into the female egg using artificial insemination.

But the couple were told that there was still a three to six per cent risk of either Heather or the baby contracting the disease.

Neither did – and the couple were blessed with not one but two children.

Perry said: “Luckily it worked, and in 2001 Isaac was born. It was overwhelming. Then, in 2005 we were blessed with our beautiful daughter, Cerian.”

The couple, who now live in Worcestershire, will soon celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. And although they don’t know what’s around the corner, they are living each and every day to the full.

Perry said: “My kids are a ray of sunshine. I try not to waste a moment and spend as much time as I can with them.

“I’ve got liver disease now, and I know I won’t be around forever. But just being here, with a wonderful wife and two kids, is a miracle.”

andrew.dagnell@mediawales.co.uk

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18
Jul
07

Video: Aids in the European Union

“740,000 people in the EU today have HIV/AIDS. One in three is unaware they have it. There is a rise of new infections in the EU and neighbouring countries. An EU survey reveals that in Europe less and less people know how the disease is transmitted and take the necessary precautions.” – from sitestotal.com

07
Jun
07

Scientists expose HIV weak spot

BBC NEWS | Health | Scientists expose HIV weak spot
Scientists have shown what happens when an infection-fighting antibody attacks a gap in HIV’s formidable defences. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-led team say the work could aid HIV vaccine development.

They have published an atomic-level image in Nature showing the antibody, b12, attacking part of a protein on surface of the virus (Photo: Antibody (green) locks onto a key site on the virus).

HIV avoids attack by constantly mutating, but this protein segment is a weak spot because it remains stable.

Dr Elias Zerhouni, director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), said: “Creating an HIV vaccine is one of the great scientific challenges of our time.

“NIH researchers and their colleagues have revealed a gap in HIV’s armour and have thereby opened a new avenue to meeting that challenge.”

Slippery foe

Developing a vaccine for HIV has proved extremely difficult.

The virus is able to mutate rapidly to avoid detection by the immune system, and is also swathed by a near-impenetrable cloak of sugary molecules which block access by antibodies.

But certain parts of the virus must remain relatively unchanged so that it can continue to bind to and enter human cells.

A protein, gp120, that juts out from the surface of the virus and binds to receptors on host cells, is one such region, making it a target for vaccine development.

Previous analysis of the blood of people who have been able to hold HIV at bay for long periods has revealed a rare group of antibodies – including b12 – that seem to fight HIV with a degree of success.

The latest study has revealed the detailed structure of the complex, which is formed when b12 docks with gp120.

Until now this has proved impossible, because of the flexible nature of some of the chemical bonds involved.

But the NIAID team were able to stiffen up the key protein enough to capture a picture of the complex.

They hope that revealing the structure of this bond in such precise detail will provide clues about how best to attack HIV.

Challenge ahead

Researcher Dr Gary Nabel said the work had revealed a “critical area of vulnerability on the virus”.

He said: “This is certainly one of the best leads to come along in recent years.”

Keith Alcorn, editor of the aidsmap.com website, said vaccines based on antibodies had so far failed to produce promising results.

“These findings are very important because they show what sort of antibodies are likely to be most successful in neutralising HIV.

“Now the challenge is to develop vaccine products that can be tested in humans.”