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1 July 2016 VOLUME 17 ISSUE 26

Media Coverage

  • “There is no doubt 90-90-90 will improve outcomes worldwide in a short space of time,” says Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, president-elect of the International AIDS Society.... “We have closed down epidemics in various parts of the world. We have to tick off the boxes – ‘done, done, done’.” Though firmly behind the initiative, Bekker cautions that care be taken not to “send the message that we can simply treat our way out of global epidemics.

    June 30, 2016
    Medical Brief
  • The obstacles faced by South Africa provide a sobering reality check to the lofty, laudable aspiration of ending AIDS, a topic that promises to occupy center stage later this month in Durban at the biannual International AIDS Conference....South Africa has already made enormous gains against its HIV/AIDS epidemic....The bottom line is that it remains an open question whether the 90-90-90 treatment goal really can stop the spread of HIV in South Africa.

    June 29, 2016
    Science
  • Mouse studies have shown that small doses of [efavirenz], an [approved] HIV drug, boost the brain’s ability to clear cholesterol. Now, a Case Western Reserve University team has identified how the drug works, suggesting it could be effective in delaying or preventing Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

    June 29, 2016
    Fierce BioTech
  • In recent months, newspapers around the country have published stories that sound like they could have been written 100 years ago. Indiana’s syphilis cases skyrocketed by 70 percent in a single year. Texas’ Lubbock county was under a “syphilis alert.” Various counties face shortages of the medication used to treat syphilitic pregnant women. But the headlines are very much modern—and urgent.

    June 28, 2016
    Atlantic
  • Two Zika vaccine candidates have shown promising results in pre-clinical trials, scientists have announced. A single shot of either vaccines appeared effective in protecting mice from an infection, in the weeks that followed immunisation.

    June 28, 2016
    IB Times
  • US lawmakers deadlocked over funding to fight the Zika virus Tuesday, as Senate Democrats blocked a Republican proposal they said fell short of the challenge posed by the mosquito-borne virus and hurt other health priorities....Democrats were especially angry that the Republican proposal would not allow funding to go to private entities such as...Planned Parenthood, although the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.

    June 28, 2016
    Reuters
  • South Africa could eventually become the first country on the continent to take the sex industry mainstream.... Among female prostitutes 25 and older, as many as four in five are HIV-positive....The South African National AIDS Council is implementing a three-year plan to treat and prevent HIV in about 70,000 prostitutes. South Africa will be one of the first countries in the world to offer sex workers an HIV prevention drug called PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.

    June 27, 2016
    US News
  • Last week, Great Britain voted to leave the European Union of 28 member states, or “Brexit"....The European Medicines Agency, responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the EU is currently based in London but is now likely to be moved to another EU member state, most likely Denmark or Sweden.

    June 27, 2016
    Med City News
  • The exact mechanism by which the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to dodge the host’s immune system response has baffled experts for years. But research involving infants exposed to the disease offered new insight into naturally produced antibodies.

    June 27, 2016
    HCP Live
  • Adolescent girls and young women continue to be at unacceptably high risk for HIV infection.... The momentum to protect girls and women from HIV and achieve an AIDS-free generation is picking up speed...AIDS 2016 offers an opportunity to...bring together holistic, integrated approaches most likely to lead to reduced HIV infections for those most vulnerable, especially girls and young women.

    June 26, 2016
    Huffington Post
  • For decades HIV-positive patients were barred from organ donation, but recent policy changes have seen that federal ban reversed. Now surgeons at transplant centers that meet specific requirements including involvement in clinical research can implant organs from HIV-positive patients. The NIH is planning a new study in collaboration with leading transplant centers...with the aim of ultimately standardizing a single protocol and expanding the use of such procedures nationwide.

    June 26, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Nature rounds up reaction from across the world....Robert Lechler, president, UK Academy of Medical Sciences: "This is a very disappointing outcome....The scientific community needs to send a strong message that we are still open for business. As part of this, research will need access to funding sources to replace those put at risk by exiting the EU, as well as clear plans to maintain access to European research talent and mechanisms for scientific collaboration.”

    June 24, 2016
    Nature
  • UK researchers and their organizations have reacted with dismay to last night’s decision...to leave the EU....Numerous scientists and research organizations [had] urged voters to preserve the UK's EU membership....Europe’s Horizon 2020 research program plays an important role in fostering cross-border collaboration and boosting research in scientifically less well-developed countries. The EU also...regulates the pharmaceutical industry and clinical trials.

    June 24, 2016
    Science Mag
  • EU-funded project EuroCoord has advanced scientific understanding of HIV by bringing together patient data collected by over 100 institutions...for insight into better prevention and treatment strategies....The virtual database contains information from over 300 000 HIV-positive adults and children from many different socio-economic settings within Europe and beyond.

    June 24, 2016
    EC Research
  • A decade ago, medical research celebrated introduction of the first vaccine proven to protect people from an identified cancer-causing agent. Studies over subsequent years affirmed the effectiveness and safety of the HPV vaccine and its potential to spare thousands from horrible cancers. Yet, inexcusably, pediatricians and family doctors remain reluctant to recommend the vaccine. A new campaign targeting these doctors aims to boost use of this lifesaving vaccine.

    June 23, 2016
    Washington Post

Published Research

  • Our findings suggest that a history of age-discordant partnerships, and to a lesser extent having an age-discordant partner, is linked to HIV risk among young South African women; however, the link between partner age discordance and HIV risk may be more strongly related to the characteristics of age-discordant [partner ≥5 years] partnerships than to the characteristics of young women who form such partnerships.

    August 1, 2016
    JAIDS
  • To address implementation challenges associated with PMTCT interventions and support progress toward “virtual elimination” of pediatric HIV, we formed the NIH-PEPFAR Implementation Science Alliance....The articles in this Special Issue report on the collective learning of the Alliance and important results from implementation science studies—information that will move us closer to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV in areas with the highest burden.

    July 1, 2016
    JAIDS
  • The latest UNAIDS statistics on HIV show that...17 million of the near 37 million infected are now receiving potentially life-saving antiretroviral drugs....However, the 2020 target of 90-90-90 is still some way off....With this in mind, the July issue of The Lancet HIV is dedicated to prevention in a series of papers initiated by researchers at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    July 1, 2016
    Lancet
  • [We tested] the impact of a low DMPA dose, designed to resemble human contraceptive use, on Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus (SHIV) acquisition risk in pigtail macaques....The result [was] remarkably similar to studies of human DMPA use, which have shown HIV risk increases of a similar magnitude and of variable significance. Taken together with previous studies of higher DMPA doses in macaques, the results suggest a dose-dependent effect of DMPA on Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) or SHIV acquisition.

    July 1, 2016
    JAIDS
  • Countries must exercise caution in continuing to focus on treatment as a ‘quick fix’ to end AIDS as a public health concern. HIV is a socially culturally induced crisis and, as such, a variety of measures are needed simultaneously to appeal to different people, groups and circumstances.

    July 1, 2016
    Open AIDS Journal
  • James Wilsdon, a science-policy researcher at the University of Sheffield, UK, says that beyond the questions about continued access to EU funding and policy, there is a more fundamental issue that UK researchers must come to grips with: the fact that most academic experts, research lobby groups and other experts came out in favour of staying in the EU and were ignored by the public.

    June 30, 2016
    Nature
  • The dramatic disparity in [cervical cancer] incidence rates between high- and low-income countries is due primarily to differential access to effective screening and preventive treatment....International gaps will widen further if use of the HPV vaccine continues to lag in LMICs....Energy and funding similar to those mobilized for other health issues — eradication of polio, widespread treatment of HIV–AIDS, for example — are now needed.

    June 30, 2016
    NEJM
  • The infant cross-clade bnAb targets the N332 supersite on envelope but, unlike adult bnAbs targeting this site, lacks indels and has low somatic hypermutation [SHM]. The identification of this infant bnAb illustrates that HIV-1-specific neutralization breadth can develop without prolonged affinity maturation and extensive SHM.

    June 30, 2016
    Cell
  • During a symposium entitled “Mission Grand Convergence—The Role of Vaccines,” held in Siena, Italy, in July 2015, key stakeholders agreed that the prioritization of vaccine development and deployment must use multicriteria decision-making based on the following core concepts: (i) mortality and severity of the disease, (ii) vaccine safety considerations, and (iii) economic evaluation that captures the full benefits of vaccination.

    June 29, 2016
    Sci Transl Med
  • Although too soon to speculate about the identity of WHO’s next Director-General, it is worth reflecting on what qualities an incoming leader should bring to WHO and how that person might need to conceive changes in the structure and behavior of the organization against a landscape of important and evolving threats to the health of the fast-growing global population.

    June 28, 2016
    PLoS Med
  • We aimed to compare short cycle therapy versus continuous ART in 199 participants from 11 countries worldwide between April 1, 2011, and June 28, 2013. Non-inferiority of maintaining virological suppression in children, adolescents, and young adults was shown for short cycle therapy versus continuous therapy at 48 weeks, with similar resistance and a better safety profile. This short cycle therapy strategy is a viable option for adherent HIV-infected young people who are stable on efavirenz-based ART.

    June 20, 2016
    Lancet
  • There are errors in the Funding section. The correct information follows: This project was supported by PEPFAR and the NIH Office of AIDS Research, through NIH Grant Number U01 AI100015 to author SR at Boston University, from NIAID. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIAID. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.

    June 3, 2016
    PLoS Med
  • Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes supplement on circumcision devices.

    June 1, 2016
    JAIDS

Announcements

  • This update provides information on the AVAC Advocacy Fellows program; an invitation to apply; links to application forms, a short informational video, and details on an upcoming informational call for interested applicants on Thursday, 7 July 2016. Submission deadline for applications is Monday, 15 August 2016.

    June 30, 2016
  • Despite significant scientific advancements, we continue to encounter structural barriers that impede real world progress. Realizing the promise of scientific achievement requires a greater commitment to removing barriers between discovery and implementation. The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) must bring these pieces together – the key scientific advances needed to end the epidemic and the key structural barriers impeding progress – and secure greater political commitment including financial resources to get the job done.

    June 30, 2016