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11 March 2016 VOLUME 17 ISSUE 10

Media Coverage

  • History will judge us harshly if we don't do enough to deliver it to individuals and groups at highest risk of HIV infection. We should see the International AIDS Conference in Durban this July as an opportunity to expand PrEP's reach by overcoming fear and foreboding and paving the way for a long-awaited and necessary HIV prevention option.

    March 10, 2016
    Bhekisisa
  • In a study recently published in the journal Cell, a team led by Barton Haynes, an HIV researcher at Duke University, was able to track the evolution of HIV antibodies in individual who had been infected several years earlier.

    March 10, 2016
    The Atlantic
  • One pill a day will soon help keep thousands of sex workers HIV-free after the Department of Health is expected to announce on Friday (March 11) that it will provide antiretrovirals to thousands HIV-negative sex workers in a bid to keep them HIV free.

    March 10, 2016
    IOL
  • But news of that infection, while calling for some reflection on individual sexual practices, should not take away from the fact that PrEP has served to protect "tens of thousands" from infection, said Jim Pickett, director of Prevention Advocacy and Gay Men's Health for AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

    March 9, 2016
    Windy City Times
  • A team led by the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has tracked the evolution of HIV and the body's corresponding immune response, hoping now to turn the knowledge gained into an experimental vaccine.

    March 9, 2016
    Fierce Vaccines
  • Patients with genital herpes infection had significant reductions in viral shedding following treatment with an investigational vaccine [GEN-003], results of a phase II trial showed. Reductions in viral shedding ranged as high as 55%...[and] lesion counts declined by as much as 69%...in the 310-patient study. If approved, the vaccine would be the first therapeutic vaccine (as opposed to prophylactic) for any infectious disease.

    March 9, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Last year the Medicines Control Council approved a daily antiretroviral pill for HIV-negative people to reduce their risk of contracting HIV...., pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.....The Department of Health is still drafting guidelines on its use....Some questions arise....Will it be effective enough for women in South Africa? Who should take it? What will it cost? And should it be an HIV prevention priority?

    March 9, 2016
    GroundUp
  • HIV-related risk factors seem to increase the risk of stroke -- the sudden death of brain cells due to rupture or obstruction of blood vessels -- according to ongoing research in a growing number of large epidemiological cohort studies. Recent data from 5 of these were presented during the first-ever poster discussion session on stroke at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections last month in Boston.

    March 9, 2016
    HIV and Hepatitis
  • A new nanotech approach has been used to stabilize membrane proteins, an advance investigators at the Karolinska Institute say should open up a new frontier for drug developers....The key to a successful experiment on HIV revolved around the cellular protein saposin, known to bind to lipids in order to transport them to various places in the cell. They then constructed saposin-based lipid nanoparticles that would stabilize the membrane proteins, holding them in place for new research work.

    March 9, 2016
    FierceBiotechResearcher
  • A small vaginal ring shows promise in the fight against HIV. Will it get the money it needs to make it to market?

    March 9, 2016
    Daily Beast
  • PrEP has not reached women most vulnerable to HIV, women want to learn about PrEP, and when women know about PrEP, they want it. Women want PrEP for themselves, for their daughters, their sisters and their friends.

    March 9, 2016
    Huffington Post
  • An intriguing little Cambridge biotech startup just raised a bit of cash: LabCentral tenant Aldatu Biosciences, which is developing a diagnostics platform to gauge HIV drug resistance, just raised $500,000. The Harvard University spinout’s aim is to cost-effectively match patients with drugs that will actually work – that is, seek out a cocktail of HIV medication to which they aren’t resistant.

    March 8, 2016
    MedCity News
  • Investigators in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have clearly demonstrated that HIV infects and reproduces in macrophages, large white blood cells found in the liver, brain and connective tissues of the body. This discovery has significant implications for HIV cure research....These findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on March 7.

    March 8, 2016
    Science Daily
  • A decade ago, South Africa was in crisis, struggling with AIDS and widespread criticism of the president at the time for a policy blamed for the early deaths of several hundred thousand South Africans from the disease. Now that former leader, Thabo Mbeki, faces fresh scrutiny for defending his old pronouncements about the disease....[The South African National AIDS Council] urged South Africans to avoid "a debate that will take us back to a fractious past and can only serve as a distraction."

    March 8, 2016
    AP
  • While incidence rates drop, actual numbers of new infections could rise steeply.

    March 8, 2016
    Science Speaks Blog
  • European drug regulators launched a new program designed to speed up the development of drugs for underserved diseases, mirroring the FDA's breakthrough therapy program with an initiative that promises faster approvals for game-changing medicines. Called Priority Medicines, or PRIME, the...initiative is much like the FDA's breakthrough therapy designation, launched in 2012, which similarly guarantees access to agency officials and gives drugmakers a shot at early approval.

    March 7, 2016
    FierceBiotech
  • Efforts must also be made to speed up licensure and regulatory approval of the vaginal ring so that women and girls can use it as soon as it is available.

    March 7, 2016
    New Vision
  • A new study by the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University in the US, released last night, shows that if the nine African countries are to treat with anti-retrovirals everyone who needs them they will need considerably increased donor funding or loans.

    March 7, 2016
    Times Live
  • Kenyans could, before the end of this year, have access to a drug that protects them from HIV infection....About 1,000 commercial sex workers are already using the newly-approved HIV/Aids combination therapy drug Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir), ahead of its rollout scheduled for later this year....Kenya approved the drug last year...Following the approval, three organisations are conducting demonstration trials on the drug for one year in Nairobi, Kisumu and Homa Bay.

    March 6, 2016
    East African
  • The Black Death swept Europe in the 14th century eliminating up to half of the population but it left genetic clues that now may aid a researcher in treating HIV patients co-infected with hepatitis C using an anti-retroviral drug therapy.

    March 4, 2016
    Science Daily
  • The first atomic-scale view of an interaction between the HIV capsid -- the protein coat that shepherds HIV into the nucleus of human cells -- and a host protein known as cyclophilin A has been illuminated by a recent study. This interaction is key to HIV infection, researchers say. A paper describing the research appears in the journal Nature Communications.

    March 4, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Women need daily doses of the antiviral medication Truvada to prevent HIV infection while men only need two doses per week due to the way the drug accumulates in different body tissues, according to a new study....The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, represents an important paradigm shift for HIV prevention strategies and could have major implications for clinical trial designs.

    March 4, 2016
    Science Daily
  • HIV has evolved into a master of avoiding immune system detection by undergoing spontaneous mutations that effectively make it a moving target....But according to a machine learning expert, HIV's mutation-happy defense mechanism also could point to its eventual downfall. David Heckerman,...senior director of the Genomics Group at Microsoft Research, is combining his expertise in computer science with his background as a medical doctor to apply machine learning to the creation of an AIDS vaccine.

    March 4, 2016
    Washington Post
  • Findings of two new studies on the use of a vaginal ring to prevent women from contracting the deadly HIV Virus have attracted optimism among women folk in Uganda who describe it as an easy to use, safe and empowering tool in the fight against the disease.

    March 4, 2016
    Sunrise
  • Women need daily doses of the antiviral medication Truvada to prevent HIV infection while men only need two doses per week due to the way the drug accumulates in different body tissues, according to a new study from pharmacy researchers the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    March 4, 2016
    Science Newsline
  • One of the most crucial and elusive goals of an effective HIV vaccine is to stimulate antibodies that can attack the virus even as it relentlessly mutates. Now a research team has tracked rare potent antibodies in an HIV-infected individual and determined sequential structures that point to how they developed. The details form a blueprint that will help guide researchers as they try to build an experimental vaccine.

    March 3, 2016
    Science Daily
  • The two legislators with arguably the most clout over the [NIH] budget...promised yesterday to give NIH “at least” the $1 billion increase President Barack Obama has requested. It would be the second step in “sustained” annual boosts for the agency, said Representative Tom Cole (R–OK) and Senator Roy Blunt (R–MO)....Cole explained: “We want...to make these NIH investments in a regular, manageable, and predictable way so that the scientific community knows they will continue.”

    March 3, 2016
    Science
  • This review gathered evidence on the feasibility and best practices of providing HIV test results....Highlights: More people tested and received results in home-based HIV testing and counselling (HBHTC) compared to facility-based testing. Uptake of HIV test results...and percentage of the population tested were highest...when testing and provision of results were provided at home. Providing results the same day as testing in HBHTC produces higher uptake than delayed results.

    March 2, 2016
    Science Direct
  • Johnson & Johnson's Janssen announced that a combination therapy of two intramuscular injections of HIV medications administered simultaneously monthly or bimonthly demonstrated comparability to a daily three-drug oral therapy during an ongoing Phase II trial....In general, long-acting injectables can increase compliance compared with oral medication by reducing the frequency of administration.

    February 29, 2016
    Fierce Biotech

Published Research

  • The recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) contains provisions that would dramatically and negatively impact access to affordable medicines in the United States and elsewhere if it is ratified....Health advocates should convince the US Congress and opponents in other countries to reject an agreement that could so adversely impact access to medicines.

    March 8, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • Our data suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women who start ART immediately after they are diagnosed with HIV can be retained on ART through the option B+ programme, even after many have stopped breastfeeding. Interventions might be needed to improve retention in the first year on ART in option B+.

    March 8, 2016
    Lancet
  • In less than a decade, HIV prevention has evolved from a reliance on education, behavioural interventions, and use of condoms to focusing on the optimum use of antiretrovirals to suppress infectiousness and for primary prophylaxis.

    March 4, 2016
    Lancet
  • This study combines data from the first two rounds [R] of a longitudinal study and in-depth interviews....Most women correctly reported that MC reduces men’s risk of HIV. However, 30% of women at R1, and significantly more (41%) at R2, incorrectly believed MC is fully protective for men against HIV....The proportion of women who believed MC reduces a woman’s HIV risk if she has sex with a man who is circumcised increased significantly (50% to 70%).

    March 3, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • The widespread elimination of HIV will require development of new, more potent prevention tools. Such efforts are imperative on a global scale. However, it must also be recognised that true containment of the epidemic requires the development and widespread implementation of a scientific advancement that has eluded us to date—a highly effective vaccine. Striving for such medical advances is what is required to achieve the end of AIDS.

    March 2, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • Much greater national and global investments in policy and implementation research (PIR) capacity will be required to enable scaling of effective approaches and prevent recycling of failed ideas. Sample questions for PIR research include how to close the gap in delivery of essential services to the poor, which interventions for non-communicable diseases are most applicable in different contexts, and how to engage non-state actors in equitable provision of health services.

    March 2, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • Making a case for more investments will require not just better data generation and sharing but a whole new level of sophistication in our analytical capability—a fundamental shift in our thinking to set expectations to match the reality. In this current status of a distributed world, being transparent with our assumptions and specific with the case for investing in global health is a powerful approach to finding solutions to the problems that have plagued us for centuries.

    March 2, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • The first global survey of women’s representation at the highest level of academia shows that less than one-eighth of the members of science academies around the world are women,...the Academy of Science of South Africa and the InterAcademy Partnership reported on 29 February. The Cuban Academy of Sciences had the highest proportion of women, at 27%, while the Tanzania Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences had the lowest levels, at 4%.

    March 1, 2016
    Nature
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV are both major causes of death in many parts of the world. They share common routes of transmission, and so are expected to co-infect the same individuals. When they do, they can exacerbate the clinical effects of one another. In particular, liver fibrosis associated with HCV progresses more rapidly in individuals with HIV, even if they receive effective HIV treatment.

    February 24, 2016
    Lancet
  • We noted a consistently higher HCV prevalence in HIV-infected individuals than HIV-negative individuals across all risk groups and regions, but especially in people who inject drugs (PWID). This study highlights the importance of routine HCV testing in all HIV-infected individuals, but especially in PWID. There is also a need to improve country-level surveillance of HCV prevalence across different population groups in all regions.

    February 24, 2016
    Lancet

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