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OUT provides direct health services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, MSM, sex workers, and injecting drug users, including HIV testing, counselling, treatment and general lifestyle advice and support.

OUT has been in existence for more than 21 years and is dedicated to the building of healthy and empowered LGBT communities in South Africa and internationally, while reducing hetrosexism and homophobia in society.

NEW ANTIBODY THERAPY SHOWS PROMISE IN FIGHTING HIV

The work, reported this week in Nature, brings fresh optimism to the field of HIV immunotherapy and suggests new strategies for fighting or even preventing HIV infection, they said.

Fighting HIV has always been difficult because the virus constantly mutates in the body to avoid being eradicated by the immune system. The new study, conducted in Michel Nussenzweig’s Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, found that a potent antibody, called 3BNC117, can catch HIV off guard and reduce viral loads.

“What’s special about these antibodies is that they have activity against over 80 percent of HIV strains and they are extremely potent,” said Marina Caskey, assistant professor of clinical investigation in the Nussenzweig lab and co-first author of the study.

Broadly neutralizing antibodies are produced naturally in some 10 to 30 percent of people with HIV, but only after several years of infection. By that time the virus in their bodies has usually evolved to escape even these powerful antibodies.

However, by isolating and then cloning these antibodies, researchers are able to harness them as therapeutic agents against HIV infections that have had less time to prepare.

In the study, uninfected and HIV-infected individuals were intravenously given a single dose of the antibody and monitored for 56 days. At the highest dosage level all eight infected individuals treated showed up to 300-fold decreases in the amount of virus measured in their blood.

This is the first time that the new generation of HIV antibodies has been tested in humans. In half of the individuals receiving the highest dose, viral loads remained below starting levels even at the end of the eight-week study period and resistance to 3BNC117 did not occur.

Researchers also believe that antibodies may be able to enhance the patient’s immune responses against HIV, which can in turn lead to better control of the infection. In addition, antibodies like 3BNC117 may be able to kill viruses hidden in infected cells, which serve as viral reservoirs inaccessible to current antiretroviral drugs.

Most likely, 3BNC117, like other anti-retrovirals, will need to be used in combination with other antibodies or antiretroviral drugs to keep infections under control. “One antibody alone, like one drug alone, will not be sufficient to suppress viral load for a long time because resistance will arise,” said Caskey.

One important benefit is the dosing schedule: an antibody therapy for HIV might require treatment just once every few months, compared to daily regimens of antiretroviral drugs that are now the front-line treatment for HIV.

Source: Rockefeller University

Services
Have you been threatened, hit, raped or had your property damaged or stolen because you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI)? Then you have been a victim of a hate crime.
OUT offers exciting training to mainstream service providers and other interested parties. The training assists individuals to understand themselves as sexual beings.
Currently OUT distributes safer sex packs to a range of venues in Tshwane that are utilised by gay men and lesbian women. These packs also include responsible sex messaging, appropriate barrier methods and lube.
OUT's Engage Men’s Health project offers free and confidential sexual health services to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).