Researchers working at Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic say they have discovered why some people infected with HIV seem to be immune from getting full-blown AIDS (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Around five percent of people who are HIV positive, some 250 people in Spain, have been found to go up to 25 years without suffering any of the main illnesses that AIDS normally causes, and that is despite not taking any antiretroviral medication. This mystery has inspired extensive research around the world, and now a group of scientists at the Hospital Clinic believe they have discovered a key part of the enigma: in the blood of these five percent, the production of a particular 'alfa defensinas' molecule, which is part of the 'dendríticas' family of cells within the immune system, is present in amounts up to 10 times more than is found in other people infected with HIV—this radically slows down the reproduction of the virus within the body of the infected person, which has normally reproduced itself 500,000 times within hours of entering the blood stream. In the majority of people with HIV, they have 50,000 copies of the virus to every one mililitre of blood, but in this small other group, it is only around 50 copies. The findings of the research at the Barcelona centre has today been published in the journal PLoS One.
The Catalan Education Minister, Ernest Maragall, has said that he doesn’t understand why trade unions have called a strike by teachers for March 17th (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Speaking on Catalan radio station RAC1 this morning, Maragall said he was “particularly disappointed” that talks between his department and the unions had been stopped. He went on to say that calling this strike had interrupted a “magnificent opportunity” and argued that he didn’t see how the proposed day of stoppage could be in anybody’s interests. The strike has been called by teachers’ unions in protest at the policies of Maragall’s department following a month of talks on a variety of subjects including class sizes, substitute teachers taken on for a third of a day (rather than a half-day) and budgets.
The third and final phase for closing down analogical television broadcasting in Catalunya is due to start on March 10th, leaving only digital services functioning (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). As such, anyone who hasn’t converted their television or antenna to a TDT (televisió digital terrestre or digital terrestrial television) enabled one will not be able to watch television. However, the director of the transition to TDT in Catalunya, José Antonio Quintela, said that they expected those people left without television to be the minority. According to surveys undertaken, nine out of 10 Catalans are aware of TDT and 93 percent of antennas have been adapted here. One hundred and seventy towns will be involved in this final stage of converting to TDT in Catalunya, which, like the previous conversions, will be done progressively over various weeks, affecting around 4.3 million inhabitants. In the province of Tarragona, the switch-over has already been completed “without significant incidents”.
Also in the news: Catalan parliamentary debate unable to reach agreement on anticrisis plan (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Spanish Treasury department considering freezing civil servants’ salaries (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Low-grade earthquake in Pyrenees area of Ripollès (read full article in Catalan here, Avui).