HIV vaccine breaks new ground

first_imgBy Khanyi MagubaneA major breakthrough in the research, development and testing of HIV vaccines in South Africa is on the cards, following an application by the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative to start human clinical trials on their new vaccines. The application has been sent to the Medicines Control Council (MCC) for approval.Researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) have developed two test HIV vaccines, which, if approved, will be the first entirely South African-developed products to reach the human trials stage since the Aids vaccine research process begun.Before a vaccine is given the thumbs up, it is taken through a number of clinical trials. At that stage, it’s called a test vaccine. If the test vaccine fails any of the clinical trials, it is discarded.Dr Glenda Gray, Director of the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at Johannesburg’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, will be chairing phase one of the clinical trial. She says this phase of the trial will include 12 Americans and 36 South African volunteers. Gray says she is positive about the safety of the vaccine. “The vaccine has been tested in America on animals and similar vaccines to the one we will be testing have been tested on humans before, so we have a good idea what the safety profile will be.”Phase one of the trials will test the tolerability of the two vaccines, Saavi MVA-C and Saavi DNA-C2, on humans – specifically, the response of the immune system. “We want to see if there is a strong immune system response to specific doses of the vaccine,” says Gray. All the participants have been carefully chosen to fall within the low risk sexual behaviour category and their risk of passing on the virus is very minimal.Gray further explains that if the first phase of the clinical trials is successful, Saavi will then conduct phase two, which will now involve hundreds of participants and will involve a more intricate look at the immune system’s response to the vaccine.Should the trials continue on a success path, the process will then advance to phase 2b, which will be the “protection” phase. Participants who fall into the high-risk category will be used in the trial to once again test for the immune system’s response to the vaccine, as well the vaccine’s ability to protect the immune system from the disease. The vaccines were specifically designed to target the strain of HIV-1 subtype C, which is the most prevalent in Southern Africa.Researchers from UCT’s National Health Laboratory Service developed the two vaccines with the help of funding received from Saavi since 2000. The project also received some funding from the National Institutes of Health in the United States. In South Africa, the departments of Science and Technology and of Health, as well as electricity utility Eskom, have also backed the project.Following 12 failures in the past few years, including five last year, Gray says Saavi is positive about these clinical trials. “We are very hopeful. We are using a completely different strategy this time. The vaccine is very clever and we are using a new biological platform.”The process between Saavi and the MCC will include a thorough examination of the safety of the vaccine to use on humans, which will be conducted according to the MCC’s own testing procedures. This process is expected to take an estimated three months before a final decision is reached.HIV/AIDs and South AfricaAt the end of 2006, one in nine or 5.5 million South Africans were living with HIV, with a prevalence of 18.8% in the adult population. HIV prevalence is not yet declining although it has stabilised among young people 15-24 years, reports UNAids.The figure reported by UNAids is 8.8% higher than the results of a national South African HIV survey conducted in 2005, commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. According to the survey, entitled “South African National HIV prevalence, HIV incidence, behavior and communications survey 2005”, researchers estimated that 10.8% or 4.8 million of all South Africans aged two years and older were living with HIV in 2005. Among those between 15 and 49 years old, the estimated HIV prevalence was 16.2% in 2005.In an increased bid to better understand ways in which to manage the Aids pandemic in the country, more than 4 000 scientists, activists and medical experts gathered in Durban for the third South African AIDS conference in June last year. The conference was conducted under the theme, “Building consensus on prevention, treatment and care”. At the end of the week-long event, an extensive conference declaration was taken, covering seven key areas: HIV testing stategies, social and behavioural interventions, infant feeding, long-term effects of anti-retrovirals, male circumcision, female condoms, and new prevention strategies.The Department of Health has also adopted a HIV and AIDS and STI (sexually-transmitted infections) strategic plan for South Africa, 2007–2011. In its report of the strategy, it states, “Whilst the two main goals of the Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care, Management and Treatment for South Africa are to provide comprehensive care and treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS as well as to facilitate the strengthening of the national health system, the National Strategic Plan 2007-2011, is not a plan for the health sector alone. Instead, it seeks to be relevant to all agencies working on HIV and AIDS in South Africa, within and outside the government. The underlying basic premise is the recognition that no single sector, ministry, department or organisation can by itself be held responsible for the control of HIV and AIDS.”Useful linksAvert – international aids charityMedical Research CouncilUNAidsSouth African Aids Vaccine InitiativeThird South African Aids Conferencelast_img read more

Brand South Africa congratulates Play Your Part Award winner, Intercessory Army Franchising

first_imgThe 6th annual South African Premier Business Awards hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry, in partnership with Proudly South African and Brand South Africa took place in Sandton on Wednesday 13 March 2019.SAPBA celebrates business excellence and honours organisations that are drivers of innovation, job creation, healthy business ethics and quality.Brand South Africa is excited to have presented The Play Your Part Award that inspires citizens to contribute positive change, by steering and executing social programmes. The award was scooped by Intercessory Franchise Brands founded by Bulelani Balabala. As the CEO of IAF and founder of TEA (Township Entrepreneur Alliance), a branch of IAF, Balabala centres his work around empowering young people.Balabala was honoured by Minister of Trade & Industry, Minister Rob Davies for his commitment and implementation of entrepreneurial and youth development programmes.Through the 4-year old TEA Programme, Balabala and his team have impacted over 9800 townships and rural entrepreneurs, and more 25 000 high school students. The programme is aimed at  knowledge sharing, skills development, enterprise development and giving young entrepreneurs  access to markets.In addition, IAF conducts weekly township school visits through Sbusiso Leope Education Foundation (SLEF), where they inspire students to go the extra mile with their studies and become well-rounded citizens.Brand SA salutes Bulelani Balabala for being an agent of change and for leading a group of people who practice the spirit of Ubuntu. To find out more about what the IAF does, click here.last_img read more

“Triglav 2864” GC14N3H GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – February 27, 2012

first_img SharePrint RelatedExtreme Geocaching in Pictures (and Video)April 29, 2013In “Community”Started from the bottom, now we’re here. — Roof of the World (GC9A9E) — Geocache of the WeekMay 22, 2013In “Community””Para Emmy-n-Sapphie” GC19941 GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK December 5, 2011December 5, 2011In “Community” Logging Triglav 2864Learning some quick Slovenian may smooth your long hike to reach this Geocache of the Week. The cache page for “Triglav 2864” (GC14N3H) shares a couple Slovenian phrases to offer other your fellow hikers as a courtesy. It reads, “When you meet or pass somebody say ‘dober dan’ (good day) or ‘zdravo or zivjo’ (hello).”Geocachers may also need the phrase, “How far to the top?” The  difficulty 1.5, terrain 4.5 geocache sits high atop a Mt. Triglav. The hike to the geocache and back can take two days.The peak of Mt. Triglav reaches 2864m (9390 ft) into the cool central European air. The mountain is highest in all of Slovenia and graces the country’s flag.Geocachers are advised to bring safety gear for the aggressive terrain and extra clothing to adapt to the shifting weather on the mountain. The cache page offers this warning, “Never underestimate the extremes of mountain weather. Check the weather forecast before you go and plan and equip accordingly.”View from near the cache locationHikers plan their trips  months in advance. The best time to climb begins in July. More than two hundred geocachers have taken the challenge to find “Triglav 2864” since TeMpL Team hide the traditional cache in 2007.Some geocachers say they overcame fears to find this cache, “So far the hardest cache. I am very glad that I finally decided to [go] up. I do not like heights too, so for me it was a really powerful experience. We had nice weather and it was a very nice view. Thanks for a nice, big cache.”Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com.Cache containerIf you’ d like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to pr@groundspeak.com. Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more

The Pretty Good House, Part 2

first_imgMore suggestions for a PGHDan Kolbert, builder and moderator, kicked it off by briefly recapping the results of the first discussion and the comments to Part 1 of this blog series. He clarified that, in his mind at least, the PGH is not meant to be a prescriptive measure for all climate zones (and that in fact he’s not really sure what it’s supposed to be at all), but that we should try to focus our discussion on our zone (Climate Zone 6) and to consider how other climates might relate. RELATED ARTICLES The Pretty Good HouseMartin’s Pretty Good House ManifestoThe Pretty Good House: A Better Building Standard?Regional Variations on the ‘Pretty Good House’Is the Pretty Good House the Next Big Thing?Is the Pretty Good House the Next Big Thing? Part 2Green Building for BeginnersWith many sharp minds in the room and no strong agenda, the discussion wandered around, and as usual there was no consensus on what the PGH metrics should be or even what the PGH concept really means. Good things came out of the discussion though, including the following ideas of what should be included in a Pretty Good House:Near net zero. Jason Peacock suggested this, and he practices what he preaches. He propsed that a PGH should have utility bills of no more than $500 to $700 a year, and that no house should be built without renewable energy systems as part of the mechanical mix.Zoned heating system to reduce the load. Jim Godbout, one of Maine’s premier plumbing and heating experts, says that one relatively inexpensive way to reduce demand on the heating system is to provide separate zones for different parts of the house. He said that if you are using a boiler, a popular choice in Maine, you can also use the boiler to heat domestic hot water — an approach that usually requires a boiler rated at 80,000 Btu/h or more. He says that in a tight, well-insulated house, the heat load could be reduced to 20,000 Btu per square foot per year or less, at which point electrically supplied heat can make sense — but you will need another heat source to supply domestic hot water.Mechanical ventilation should be a given. An HRV or ERV, or possibly an exhaust-only ventilation system, is required with the airtightness level expected of a PGH.At the previous discussion, Mike Pindell of I&S Insulation had suggested 2 ach50 as a reasonably easy target to hit; informal feedback seems to indicate that tighter levels may be preferred. Mike says, “We’re standing here in rarified air,” arguing about the difference between 1 and 2 ach50, when the vast majority of people out there are nowhere near these numbers. Is this a case of building nerds being nerdy, or are supertight blower door numbers really necessary?No fossil fuels. Phil Kaplan offers this concept, and has achieved it in his firm’s Bright Built Barn, which produces more power than it uses. Using no fossil fuels at all may be more than Pretty Good, so the suggestion was amended to “no fossil fuels burned on site.” Affordably sized grid-tied renewable energy system, here we come.Renovating vs. new construction. Dan states that until we get our heads around the concept of the PHG, let’s stick to new construction. Architect Liz Newman argues that in 50 years, 90% of the housing stock will be stock that exists now, so thinking about retrofits is vitally important. Margo Billings of Horizon Energy Services asks whether retrofits should meet the same standards as PGH specifications for new homes. Clearly this group is focused on retrofits, and further discussion about retrofits, when we get to it, will be interesting.Client concerns. Sam Zuckerman of Solaris says that we should bring the discussion back to the customers. Their concerns about achieving a reasonable return on their investment are something he hears about all the time when talking to people about energy upgrades and installations. Should the PGH specifications be a list of “Do this, don’t do that,” or should it be about giving the client the best house you can for the money they are willing to spend?On one hand, Dan relates a story about a leading green builder in New England, who tells customers: If you already have 500 square feet per person, I will not build you an addition.On the other hand, Bob Earnest of Spring Island Builders says, “If you can help people build a greener house than they would have otherwise, then yes — we should continue to encourage smaller footprints. But don’t run away from a house that’s bigger than you might prefer.  Each case has to stand on its own.  Every time we can make a house greener, or smaller, or better — that’s a win.”A house that uses little fuel will cost less to operate, allowing for a bigger mortgage, and energy incentives also make a difference in what homeowners can afford, so the cost vs. square foot debate is a moving target. Client education is a big part of this too; Dan suggests a Pretty Good House coloring book to help all parties visualize what is important.Energy-efficient assemblies. Wes Riley, an energy rater and consultant, suggests we follow the latest energy code requirements — specifically the 2012 IECC, which has some interesting changes over past iterations. As most of us are not yet aware of the upcoming changes, he says that there is going to be a move from insulation R-value to overall wall assembly U-factor, taking into account thermal bridging and window and door performance. Wes suggests that any house with a HERS performance rating of 40 or less is Pretty Good.Margo agrees that the tipping point is right around HERS 40; that’s where you start to see serious reductions in energy use. Wes says that the easiest thing you can do is to minimize thermal bridging; Sam agrees that it doesn’t cost a lot and makes a big difference in wall U-factors. Wes says that in the 2012 IECC, air leakage is also going to be a major factor.Tom Fullam points out that in any wall assembly you need to be aware of moisture management issues — there’s no sense in building a superinsulated house if it’s not going to be durable.Prescriptive vs. performance. Jim Godbout says that he recently went to a meeting of ten reputable builders — these are guys who are proud of the way they are building — and all ten were insulating in different ways: proof that prescriptive paths don’t work.Mike Pindell and Chris Corson agree that if the PGH is going to require high performance levels, the standard has to be performance-based. Chris, who recently built a house that “killed the Passivhaus standard,” says that PGH could be the beginning of a potential paradigm shift. Sam agrees, and says that there doesn’t need to be one solution with a ribbon around it; simply planting five ideas in someone’s head will make a big difference.Steve Konstantino, owner of Maine Green Building Supply (our gracious host and provider of delicious sausages and other snacks), thinks that including an energy model up front is very important, in addition to testing performance at the end of the project. The best response so far to the second question came from Shepard Bosworth, a builder: you get a Pretty Good Plaque. But I think there may be other good answers to both questions. Let’s hear them. What is truly important when designing and building a green home? Some of the many existing programs don’t go far enough, some are accused of going too far, and some just miss the mark. What should be included in a Pretty Good House?We had a pretty good turnout, 50 people or so, at the most recent building science discussion group, held each month at Maine Green Building Supply in Portland. Plugs were made for the upcoming Maine Indoor Air Quality conference and the NESEA conference in Boston. We did a quick round of self-introductions, and then we got down to business — Part 2 of the Pretty Good House discussion. What’s the point?At the end of the night, there seemed to be a few recurring questions:center_img Should you quantify the PGH, and if so, how? And what is the purpose of the PGH?last_img read more

Hizb was backed by JeI: Centre

first_imgA day after it banned the Jammu and Kashmir-based group Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) under the anti-terror law, the Centre said the organisation was responsible for the formation of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), the largest terrorist organisation active in the State. A senior Home Ministry official said the JeI had been providing all kinds of support to the HM in terms of recruits, funding, shelter, and logistics. “In a way, the HM is a militant wing of JeI (J&K),” the official said.The organisation was banned twice in the past — in 1975 for two years by the J&K government and in April 1990 by the MHA which continued till December, 1993. “JeI is the main organisation responsible for propagation of separatist and radical ideology in the Kashmir Valley,” said the official. “Jel has been pursuing the agenda of setting up an independent theocratic Islamic state by destabilising the government,” said the official.According to him, a sizeable section of JeI cadres overtly worked for militant organisations, especially HM. “Its cadres are actively involved in the subversive activities of HM by providing hideouts, and ferrying arms.” “The strong presence of HM in the area of influence of JeI is a clear reflection of separatist and radical ideology of the organisation,” the official said.last_img read more

Coldest March in West Bengal in a decade

first_imgDue to high pressure over the Bay of Bengal, Kolkata experienced its first Nor’wester of the season, sharply bringing the temperature down in March. Thus, the city is experiencing its coldest days and nights in March over the last decade, according to the Kolkata meteorological centre. The early half of February saw humidity in the air. This had led to record rainfall in and around Kolkata, according to weather reports. The city saw a record minimum temperature of 15.5 degrees Celsius. The closest to this temperature was in 2011, when the mercury plummeted to 15.7 deg C in March. The cold wave is likely to continue for a few more days. Siliguri saw the mercury dipping to 9.8 degrees, Purulia 11.4 and Sriniketan 11.8 respectively.last_img

Rush of relief after Gina Iniong escapes with close win in ONE Bangkok card

first_imgPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Gina Iniong’s most anxious moments against Jihin Radzuan came after the fight.ADVERTISEMENT Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations PBA D-League: CEU drubs Diliman College-Gerry’s Grill Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte MOST READcenter_img Iniong could only breathe a huge sigh of relief when she was awarded a narrow win over Radzuan, who was undefeated coming into Saturday’s bout, in ONE: Clash of Legends in Bangkok, Thailand.“To be honest, I got nervous when they announced it as a split decision,” said the Filipina, who improved to 8-4.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption charges“I thought I should have won it by unanimous decision. I almost lost my breath because of that, but it’s okay.”It’s understandable for Iniong to feel as if she’s sitting on pins and needles before the announcement was made after two of her Team Lakay teammates in Joshua Pacio and Geje Eustaquio both dropped close decisions in their title defenses last month. Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants View comments LATEST STORIES But it wasn’t the same case during the fight where Iniong said she felt calm from the get-go.“I think I did well, I was able to execute our game plan during the fight. I was relaxed throughout the fight even when she got back in the last round,” The 29-year-old Iniong said.“Radzuan is a tremendous warrior, and I wasn’t expecting this to be an easy fight at all. Thankfully, our game plan worked.” The victory did not only boosted Iniong’s bid for a world title shot, it also served as a shot in the arm for her ailing mother, who is suffering from chronic kidney disease.“This win is for my family, especially to my mom, who’s still ill.”ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug warlast_img read more