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Dashed hope for HIV patients as another vaccine trial fails after large-scale study

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By Francesca Iwambe, Abuja

There ses to be dimmed hope for people living with human immunodeficiency virus, (HIV), as the only vaccine against the virus being tested nearing the completion of testing trials has proved ineffective, its manufacturer has announced.

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Known as Mosaico, the trial was the product of a public-private partnership including the US government and the Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

HIV is a virus that gradually attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. AIDS is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus.

The failure of the latest candidate underscores the challenges of designing a vaccine for HIV.

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The announcement posted on the Johnson & Johnson’s website noted that the study’s independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board determined that the regimen was not effective in preventing HIV infection compared to the placebo among study participants.

It also said no safety issues with the vaccine regimen were identified.

In light of the DSMB’s determination, the Mosaico clinical trial will be discontinued, it said.
It noted that participant notifications and further analyses of the data are underway.

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Throughout the trial, study investigators have ensured that any individuals who contracted HIV received prompt HIV treatment and care.

“We are disappointed with this outcome and stand in solidarity with the people and communities vulnerable to and affected by HIV,” said the Global Therapeutic Area Head, Vaccines, Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Penny Heaton.

“Though there have been significant advances in prevention since the beginning of the global epidemic, 1.5 million people acquired HIV in 2021 alone, underscoring the high unmet need for new options and why we have long worked to tackle this global health challenge.

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“We remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing innovation in HIV, and we hope the data from Mosaico will provide insights for future efforts to develop a safe and effective vaccine. We are grateful to our Mosaico partners and the study investigators, staff, and participants.”

Recall that in 2020, the United States National Institutes of Health announced the end of its HVTN 702 clinical trial of an HIV vaccine. While no safety concerns were found during the trial, the independent data and safety monitoring board found that the vaccine was ineffective in preventing HIV transmission.

Also, in 2021, an investigational HIV vaccine tested in the “Imbokodo” clinical trial conducted in sub-Saharan Africa posed no safety concerns but did not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection, according to a primary analysis of the study data.

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Meanwhile, Mosaico, a Phase three study of Janssen’s investigational HIV vaccine regimen, began in 2019 and completed vaccinations in October 2022.

The study included approximately 3,900 cisgender men and transgender people who have sex with cisgender men and/or transgender people, who represent groups and populations vulnerable to HIV, at over 50 trial sites in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States.

“The study evaluated an investigational vaccine regimen containing a mosaic-based adenovirus serotype 26 vector (Ad26.Mos4.HIV) administered during four vaccination visits over one year. A mix of soluble proteins (Clade C/Mosaic gp140, adjuvanted with aluminum phosphate) was also administered at visits three and four.

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“The Mosaico DSMB analysis, based on the data available to date, indicated that the regimen does not protect against HIV and the study is not expected to meet its primary endpoint. No safety issues with the vaccine regimen were identified. In light of this, the study will be discontinued, and further analyses are underway.

“The DSMB’s determination follows the primary analysis of the Phase 2b Imbokodo study, which was announced in August 2021 and found that a similar investigational HIV vaccine regimen did not provide sufficient protection against HIV in a population of young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The investigational vaccine regimen used in the Imbokodo study was found to have a favorable safety profile,” it added.

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Health

REVEALED: S3x during menstruation increases risk of HIV, other STDs, says Gynaecologist

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A professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Solomon Avidime, has cautioned against having vaginal sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman, noting that it could expose partners to the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

According to the gynaecologist, the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases is high when partners have sexual intercourse when the woman is menstruating.

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Prof. Avidime who made tyis dosclosured stated that HIV infections can occur as a negative consequence of sexual intercourse during menses.

Besides the risk of contracting STIs, the professor said that vaginal sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman could also lead to an increase in the flow of menstrual blood because the veins of the uterus are congested and prone to rupture, and thus could be damaged easily.

Prof. Avidime stressed that sexual intercourse during the menstrual period also exposes partners to the risk of different kinds of sexually-transmitted infections.

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“The risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases is high during sexual intercourse when the woman is menstruating. It is high in both women and men.

“HIV infection can occur as a negative consequence of sexual intercourse during menses. The risk of contracting gonorrhea and hepatitis is also high.

“So, to prevent infection, it is better to avoid sexual intercourse during menstruation. It is not safe it”, he said.

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When asked if a woman could ovulate during her menstrual flow or get pregnant during such a period, Prof Avidime said it is remotely possible for a woman to get pregnant during her monthly period if she engages in sexual intercourse.

He said this is especially common among women that have shorter cycles like 21 days or less.

He, however, said that ovulation does not occur during menses.

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According to an online portal, American Pregnancy, menstruation or a period is the bleeding that occurs when the endometrium is shed 12 to 16 days after ovulation.

With this definition, a woman cannot ovulate while on her period.

The portal, however, said some women experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding (bleeding that occurs around ovulation) and may mistake it for a period.

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“This can happen to women with very irregular cycles coming once every three months or two to three times in one month.

“Mid-cycle bleeding can occur in women with regular cycles as well. They may experience what appears to be a period, but, in reality, this is most likely ovulatory bleeding. Ovulation can occur when you experience mid-cycle or ovulatory bleeding.

“Keep in mind that while you cannot technically ovulate while on a period because sperm can live in the body for three to five days after sex, pregnancy could occur from intercourse that takes place during a period,” it noted.

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According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women experience a 28-day menstrual cycle.

“This cycle lasts from the first day of menstrual bleeding to the day before bleeding begins the following month.

“The length of the cycle varies between individuals, but is usually between 26 and 32 days long, with 28 days being the average.

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“The most fertile time of the menstrual cycle is between days eight and 19,” ACOG said.

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Ultra-processed foods may raise cancer risk in women, Study reveals

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By Francesca Iwambe

Eating ultra-processed food could increase the risk of cancers, especially ovarian cancer in women, a new study has revealed.

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The study conducted on over 197,000 people with more than half being women looked at the association between eating ultra-processed foods and 34 different types of cancer over 10 years.

The study which was published in the medical journal eClinicalMedicine, an open-access clinical journal, published by The Lancet, examined information on the eating habits of the 197,426 people who were part of the UK Biobank.

The study noted that the amount of ultra-processed foods consumed by people in the study ranged from a low of 9.1 per cent to a high of 41.4 per cent of their diet.

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Over the years, the eating patterns were compared with medical records that listed both diagnoses and deaths from cancer.

A statement made by Imperial College London on the findings of the research stated that “each 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption was associated with a 2 per cent increase in developing any cancer, and a 19 per cent increased risk for being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

“Deaths from cancers also increased. For each additional 10 per cent increase in ultra-processed food consumption, the risk of dying from any cancer increased by 6 per cent, while the risk of dying from ovarian cancer rose by 30 per cent.”

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Of note also is the fact that “these associations persisted after adjustment for a range of socio-demographic, smoking status, physical activity, and key dietary factors,” the authors revealed.

According to Heath.harvard.edu, ultra-processed foods most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colours or preservatives and are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats.

These overly processed foods may also contain additives like artificial colours and flavours or stabilizers.
Foods classified as ultra-processed or overly processed include foods like pre-packaged soups, sauces, frozen pizza and ready-to-eat meals, hot dogs, sausages, french fries, sodas, store-bought cookies, cakes, candies, doughnuts, and ice cream.

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Also, soft drinks, cold cuts, and salty snacks are ultra-processed foods.

Speaking on the study, the first author and National Institute for Health and Care Research fellow at the Imperial College London School of Public Health, Dr. Kiara Chang explained that ultra-processed foods are produced with industrially derived ingredients and often use food additives to adjust colour, flavour, consistency, texture, or extend shelf life.

She, however, added that the different human bodies would react differently to these ultra-processed ingredients and additives as they do to fresh and nutritious minimally processed foods.

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Common causes of mental illnesses many people don’t know about

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By Francesca Iwambe

Mental illness according to webmd, is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues. In this article, NaijaBlitzNews HEALTH explore some of the common causes of mental illness that many people may not be aware of.

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Medical conditions:

Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of developing mental illness. For example, people with chronic pain, heart disease, or diabetes may be more likely to develop depression or anxiety. Additionally, certain medications used to treat these conditions can also contribute to the development of mental health issues.

Substance abuse: The use of drugs and alcohol can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who abuse substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine may be at a higher risk for developing psychosis, while those who abuse alcohol may be more likely to develop depression or anxiety.

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Social isolation: People who are socially isolated may be at a higher risk for developing mental illness. This is because social connections and support can provide protection against mental health issues. People who are isolated may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

Trauma: Traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who have experienced trauma may be more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to symptoms such as flashbacks, anxiety, and depression.

Nutritional deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who do not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12 and folate, may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, may also be at a higher risk for developing mental health issues.

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Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who do not get enough sleep may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have sleep disorders may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

Chronic stress: Chronic stress can also contribute to the development of mental illness. For example, people who are under constant stress may be at a higher risk for developing depression and anxiety. Additionally, people who have chronic stress may also be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse, which can further increase their risk for mental illness.

It is important to note that mental illness is complex and can be caused by a combination of different factors. Additionally, not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a mental illness.

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However, understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, it is important to seek help. Treatment for mental illness can include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Additionally, it is important to seek help early, as early intervention can increase the chances of a successful outcome.

In conclusion, mental illness is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues.

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Understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.
It is important to note that mental illness is a complex condition that can be caused by a combination of different factors.

Additionally, not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a mental illness. However, understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues.

One of the key ways to reduce the risk of mental illness is to maintain good physical and mental health. This includes getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress. Additionally, people can also reduce their risk of mental illness by avoiding substance abuse and engaging in positive social activities.

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Another important step in reducing the risk of mental illness is to seek help early if symptoms develop. This can include seeing a therapist or counselor, taking medication, or participating in a support group.

Early intervention can increase the chances of a successful outcome, so it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

In conclusion, mental illness is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. While there are many well-known causes of mental illness, such as genetics and traumatic events, there are also many lesser-known causes that can contribute to the development of mental health issues.

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Understanding these common causes of mental illness can help people take steps to reduce their risk and seek help if they do develop mental health issues. By maintaining good physical and mental health, avoiding substance abuse, and seeking help early, people can reduce their risk of mental illness and improve their overall well-being

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