DIGEST

Study suggests smallpox vaccine may protect against HIV

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

HEALTH

End of smallpox may have led to HIV rise

The worldwide eradication of smallpox in the mid-20th century was a remarkable public health achievement, but it may have set the stage for the HIV pandemic of the latter half of the century, researchers reported Tuesday.

Laboratory tests suggested that immunity to smallpox triggered by the smallpox vaccine can inhibit the replication of the AIDS virus, the researchers said in the journal BMC Immunology.

Such vaccination could have kept HIV transmission partially under control in the early days of the outbreak, which is thought to have begun in the 1950s, but withdrawal of the smallpox vaccine, called vaccinia, starting at about the same time might have freed HIV to spread unfettered, the researchers said.

The results are preliminary and it is "far too soon to recommend the general use of vaccinia immunization for fighting HIV," said one of the researchers, Raymond S. Weinstein of the biodefense program at George Mason University's Prince William campus in Manassas.

-- McClatchy Tribune

NEW YORK

Maersk Alabama hijacker pleads guilty

A Somali suspect who became the face of 21st-century piracy by staging an attack on a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Africa pleaded guilty in New York on Tuesday to charges he hijacked the ship and kidnapped its captain.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse has been jailed in Manhattan since he was captured last year and faced what was called the first U.S. piracy prosecution in decades.

"I am very, very sorry about what we did," he said through an interpreter. "All of this was about the problems in Somalia."


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