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Study suggests smallpox vaccine may protect against HIV

Wednesday, May 19, 2010; A03

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."

Prosecutors branded Muse the ringleader of a band of four pirates who provoked a deadly drama by targeting the Maersk Alabama on April 8, 2009, as it transported humanitarian supplies about 280 miles off Somalia. He faces a minimum 27 years in prison. Sentencing was set for Oct. 19.

-- Associated Press

NEW YORK

Car bomb suspect held without bail

The suspect in the botched car bombing in Times Square, appearing in court Tuesday for the first time since his arrest two weeks ago on terrorism and weapons charges, muttered one word about an affidavit on his finances.

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, said "yes" when asked to confirm the affidavit.

Shahzad, 30, his hair a bit longer than in photos splashed around the world, was led out of the Manhattan courthouse in a gray sweat suit after a 10-minute hearing.

He did not enter a plea to any of the five felony charges and was ordered held without bail.

-- Associated Press

Teacher uses presidential assassination as math problem: The Secret Service questioned an Alabama teacher after school officials said he used a hypothetical example of shooting at the president to teach geometry. Authorities on Tuesday declined to identify the teacher, who works at Corner High School in Birmingham. The Secret Service determined there was no credible threat and closed the investigation. School officials said the teacher showed poor judgment but will not be fired.

Concentration camp guard to be deported: A former Nazi concentration camp guard living in Pennsylvania was ordered deported to Austria, authorities said Tuesday. Anton Geiser, 85, admitted serving as an armed guard at the Sachsenhausen and the Buchenwald concentration camps during World War II.

-- From news services

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