How Can We Stop Onward Transmission in HIV and Other Infectious Diseases?


The kind of strategies Myron Cohen, MD and team used for STDs and the gonorrhea bacterial pathogen were applied to HIV.

At CROI 2017, Myron Cohen, MD, from the division of infectious disease at The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, said that there was life before HIV. Before HIV, Cohen had been studying how gonorrhea was transferring from one person to another. When HIV came along, and a virus was discovered to be the cause, the kind of strategies they used for STDs and the gonorrhea bacterial pathogen were applied to HIV.

According to Cohen, when new bugs like Ebola and Zika came along, researchers noticed that they were being recovered in the genital tract — it appeared that maybe some percentage of patients were getting them not from mosquitoes, but from sex. “Son, for those who have developed all kinds of strategies to study male and female genital secretions, it’s logical to collaborate with people to study the pathogens,” said Cohen.

Currently, his team is “very aggressively” studying fertility in men after Zika infection, but Cohen said his goal is always the same: how to stop onward transmission. “That’s what we do with ART. We proved that ART concentrates in the genital tract and stops transmission. So, we’re looking for drugs we can give people with Zika and Ebola that would stop onward transmission.”

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