Islamabad - Not only does effective HIV therapy thwart the AIDS-causing virus, it may also reduce the risk for hepatitis B infection, a new study says.
“What this means to us is that effective HIV therapy appears to restore an impairment in the immune response that protects someone with HIV from acquiring hepatitis B infection,” study senior author Dr Chloe Thio, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
The study involved 2,400 gay and bisexual men who were enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. Researchers found that the men successfully treated with HIV therapy had the same risk for hepatitis B infection as the men who did not have HIV. Hepatitis B is a virus that can damage the liver.
The study showed HIV-positive men on HIV therapy who had no detectable virus in their blood were 80 percent less likely to be infected with hepatitis B over about 9.5 years, compared to men with HIV who weren’t on HIV therapy or had detectable levels of the virus in their blood.
Researchers said their findings also confirm the longstanding belief that vaccination against the hepatitis B virus protects people regardless of their HIV status.
Study lead author Dr Oluwaseun Falade-Nwulia, an assistant professor of medicine at Hopkins, said, “We found a 70 percent reduction in new [hepatitis B] infections in the men who reported receiving at least one dose of [hepatitis B] vaccine.”
However, “vaccination rates, even in high-risk individuals, such as men who have sex with men, remain low, and we need to do a better job of encouraging vaccination,” she said in the news release. Adults getting the hepatitis B vaccine should receive three doses within six months, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.
In 1984, when the study began, 41 percent of men with HIV had been vaccinated against hepatitis B, compared with 28 percent of men without HIV, researchers said.
By 2013, the proportion of men who received more than one dose of hepatitis B vaccine increased 67 percent among men with HIV, compared to 58 percent among men who did not have the virus.
Despite the protective effects of HIV therapy, better hepatitis B prevention in gay and bisexual men is needed to control the epidemic of the virus among this population, the study’s authors cautioned.
A man’s life behaviors may impact grandchildren’s health
Research has increasingly shown that the health implications of a man’s alcohol use, tobacco exposure and other behaviours can affect the health and development of offspring, even before conception. Now, a new study sheds light on the mechanisms underlying this effect, while finding that a man’s life behaviours may even impact the health of his grandchildren.
Researchers suggest a man’s life behaviours may impact the health of his children and grandchildren.
Sarah Kimmins of the department of animal science at McGill University Canada is study co-author. In recent years, numerous studies have indicated that a child’s health may be affected by the environment and life behaviors of their father. For example, a study reported by Medical News Today last year suggested babies whose father smokes before conception are at increased risk for asthma.
However, Kimmins and colleagues note that to date, scientists know very little about what drives this association. The majority of research in this field has looked at how certain environmental and lifestyle factors influence specific molecules that bind to DNA in order to control gene expression.
In this latest study, however, the team set out to investigate whether proteins called histones - a component of sperm that is transmitted during fertilization - play a role in heritability.
The researchers explain that histones - though distinct from DNA - combine with DNA during cell formation. The DNA wraps around the histones, which helps to make it more compact and better able to fit into the cell nucleus.
The researchers created mice in which the biochemical information on the histones was modified during the formation of sperm - a process that can occur with certain environmental exposures. They then assessed the development and survival of two generations of offspring.
The team found that the offspring of the mice were not only prone to birth defects, but also they had abnormal skeletal formation and reduced survival. What is more, these effects could be seen across two generations.
The researchers say they were “blown away” by these findings, which indicate that something other than DNA - the alteration of histones - play a role in the health and development of offspring.