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12 February 2016 VOLUME 17 ISSUE 6

Media Coverage

  • National Institutes of Health officials said this week that researchers may be closer to developing a Zika vaccine than previously thought and that tests on human subjects could begin in as soon as a few months.

    February 12, 2016
    Washington Post
  • People living with HIV/AIDS have condemned the move by parliament to dissolve the Ugandan Aids Commission (UAC) and incorporate it in the AIDS Control Programme under the Ministry of Health, [recommending that] the act that established UAC be amended to make it answerable to the ministry. UAC’s stakeholders under their umbrella organization, National Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Networks in Uganda, maintain the move is wrong as the two entities are distinct and don’t overlap.

    February 10, 2016
    The Observer
  • The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology expressed dismay about the numbers for the NIH. “This budget does little to capitalize on the enormous bipartisan support for the NIH in Congress,” said ASBMB Public Affairs Director Benjamin Corb,...[ and] “is surprising given the president’s consistent, strong support.” The group is “disappointed” that the request “appears to provide a $1 billion increase to the NIH,”...but also calls for a $1 billion cut in the agency’s regular discretionary appropriation.

    February 10, 2016
    Science
  • A condom made with grass and as thin as human hair could potentially make safe sex the best sex. Researchers led by professor Darren Martin at University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology extracted nanocellulose...from native spinifex grass and used it as an additive in latex....To get the spinifex, the team worked in partnership with the Aboriginal traditional owners of the Camooweal region in north-west Queensland.

    February 9, 2016
    Medical Daily
  • Johns Hopkins announced this week that it had received approval from the nation's organ-sharing authority to become the first hospital in the United States to conduct transplants involving HIV-positive donors and HIV-positive recipients.

    February 9, 2016
    Washington Post
  • Evofem Holdings, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of women’s health products, and DKT, one of the largest private providers of family planning and reproductive health products and services in the developing world, today announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a coated condom prototype with lubricating, contraceptive and anti-infective properties.

    February 9, 2016
    My Social Good News
  • [According to research published in Social Science & Medicine,] reducing the number of men who go to prison could help curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections in a community. A new computer model suggests that reducing incarceration in a community may also reduce the number of sexual partners men and women have, therefore reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

    February 9, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Stanford’s Peter S. Kim, PhD, was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering,... Kim had spent a decade as president of Merck Research Laboratories and hopes that in his return to academic research his group will be able to help create a vaccine for HIV. I talked to Kim recently about why he thinks he’ll succeed where so many have failed in their efforts to develop an HIV vaccine, and the importance of working across disciplines.

    February 9, 2016
    Stanford's
  • At least 60 percent of people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Zimbabwe, are becoming resistant to the key anti-retroviral drug, Tenofovir, raising fears among scientists that a strain of virus resistant to drugs might have developed. The scientists, whose research was carried out in 36 countries between 2012 and 2015, said another possible cause of the resistance could be due to poor administration of the drug.

    February 9, 2016
    The Herald
  • For the first time, investigators in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have determined how antiretroviral therapy affects the way HIV disseminates and establishes infection in the female reproductive tract. These observations have significant implications for future HIV prevention, vaccine and cure studies. These findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

    February 8, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Since the Philippines reported its first case of HIV in 1984, the island nation has had one of the lowest rates of infection in the world; less than 1% of its 100 million population has been infected with the virus that causes AIDS. But that may be changing....Along with India and Pakistan, the Philippines is seeing new infections and AIDS-related deaths sharply rise among men who have sex with men and among transgender women, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

    February 7, 2016
    LA Times
  • Over the last decade, an HIV-positive diagnosis has turned from a death sentence to a manageable problem in South Africa, due to cheap, widely available antiretroviral treatment....But the stigma surrounding the disease has barely budged, particularly in rural areas like Qudeni, a remote village in KwaZulu Natal province where hundreds of children have been left orphaned by the virus....But Mamtombi Shange – the only HIV-positive person in Qudeni who regularly and publicly talks about her status – thinks the stigma really comes down to one thing - fear, particularly of being alone.

    February 7, 2016
    Reuters
  • A UB student, who goes by the name Elliott Vance, works as a male escort and formerly a gay porn star to financially support himself.

    February 7, 2016
    The Spectrum
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights lead the city in new HIV infections, according to data released by the Health Department on Thursday exclusively to amNewYork.......Both neighborhoods combined had 162 diagnoses in 2014, the highest in the city in the latest year for which information was available.

    February 7, 2016
    amNewYork
  • Fewer black Americans with HIV are consistently retained in care compared with other racial or ethnic groups, the CDC reported. And black men are less likely to be retained in care than black women although there was no major sexual disparity among other racial and ethnic groups, the agency reported in the Feb. 5 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    February 6, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Condom makers including Ansell Ltd are offering to help Zika-affected countries after the first case of the virus being sexually transmitted added to growing concerns...."Ansell will be approaching regional associations in Brazil and other countries to offer assistance and expertise," Jeyan Heper, of the Australian company's...global business unit told Reuters....Female Health Co, which makes condoms for women, said it has been in contact with various health agencies...and has seen a growing number of enquiries.

    February 5, 2016
    Reuters
  • Thailand launched a campaign today urging citizens to get used to carrying condoms, as it battles a reluctance to use protection in the fight against HIV and teen pregnancies. Valentine's Day on February 14 is the usual time of year for Thai authorities to warn against premarital sex, but this time the emphasis is on protection rather than prohibition.

    February 4, 2016
    Reuters
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have deciphered how a small protein [Tat] made by the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS manipulates human genes to further its deadly agenda. The findings, published in the online journal eLife, could aid in the search for new or improved treatments for patients with AIDS, or to the development of preventive strategies.

    January 27, 2016
    Science Daily

Published Research

  • During HIV-1 infections, women have been shown to present with lower viral load levels in primary infection, although their progression to AIDS is faster in comparison with men when accounting for viral load levels in chronic infection. HIV-1-infected women furthermore tend to have higher levels of immune activation and interferon-stimulated gene expression in comparison with men for the same viral load.

    March 1, 2016
    Curr Opn HIV&AIDS
  • The timing of immune activation during acute infection occurs shortly after exposure. Recent studies demonstrated that ART mitigates inflammatory responses, preserves CD4+ T cells, and limits reservoir seeding if provided early in acute HIV infection.

    March 1, 2016
    Curr Opn HIV&AIDS
  • The results of the SMART trial...brought once again immune activation and inflammation at the forefront of disease pathogenesis as HIV is being converted to a chronic disease....In this issue of Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS, an overview of the topic of immune activation in HIV is presented within the background of modern ART, knowledge of benefits of earlier treatment, and sophisticated research tools to study pathogenesis.

    March 1, 2016
    Curr Opn HIV&AIDS
  • Dual contraceptive method use was low in these couples, with some finding it unnecessary while using condoms, and others being more focused on conceiving a child. Biomedical HIV prevention, including male circumcision, pre-exposure prophylaxis or antiretroviral therapy to reduce HIV transmission, may be more acceptable strategies to promote safer sexual relations among HIV-serodiscordant couples and safer conception when desired.

    February 10, 2016
    J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care
  • Maunank Shah et al. have applied the Johns Hopkins HIV Economic-Epidemic Model to assess the epidemiological and economic implications of three specific goals of the US 2015 NHAS: 90% HIV status awareness, 85% linkage to care within 1 month of diagnosis, and 90% retention of diagnosed persons in care....[They] estimate that successful attainment of all three goals will require an additional $105 billion over 10 years....Accordingly, the ultimate ability of the ART roll-out to deliver...will depend on unwavering, essential long term investments.

    February 8, 2016
    Lancet HIV
  • At current rates of engagement in the HIV care continuum, we project 524,000 new HIV infections and 375,000 deaths between 2016 and 2025. Achievement of NHAS progress indicators 1 and 4 has modest epidemiological effect. By contrast, increasing the proportion of diagnosed individuals in care (NHAS indicator 5) averts 52% of new infections. Achievement of all NHAS targets resulted in a 58% reduction in new infections and 128,000 lives saved at an incremental health system cost of US$105 billion.

    February 8, 2016
    Lancet
  • We provide data demonstrating that regardless of route of infection...and whether the inoculum is cell-free or cell-associated HIV, local viral replication occurs in the female reproductive tract and cervicovaginal fluid during acute HIV infection, a time when secondary transmission is most likely to occur....Our study [also] provides in vivo evidence...that initiating ART can reduce risk of secondary HIV transmission by efficiently suppressing HIV levels in the genital tract.

    February 8, 2016
    J Clin Invest
  • Analysis of National HIV Prevention Program data...indicated that the number of HIV testing events among black females declined slightly from 2012 to 2014, and the HIV positivity rate remained relatively stable. Linkage to HIV medical care within 90 days of diagnosis for black females with newly diagnosed HIV infection increased from 33.8% to 50.1% from 2012 to 2014; however, this is below the goal set by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

    February 5, 2016
    MMWR
  • In this...cohort of VOICE participants assigned to active products, PK non-adherence was 69% in the oral group (N=314), 65% in the vaginal group (N=158). PK measures indicated similarly low adherence for [both] groups. No behavioural measure accurately predicted PK non-adherence. Significant correlates of over-reporting included being very worried about getting HIV and being unmarried for the oral group;...for the vaginal group being somewhat worried about HIV was associated with lower risk of over-reporting.

    February 4, 2016
    J Intl AIDS Society
  • In this review, we discuss the application of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) for HIV treatment and HIV eradication strategies. We highlight bNAbs that target key epitopes, such as the CD4 binding site and the V2/V3-glycan-dependent sites, and we discuss several bNAbs that are currently in the clinical development pipeline.

    February 3, 2016
    Curr HIV/AIDS Rep
  • We conducted 20 in-depth dyadic interviews with heterosexual HIV serodiscordant couples....Couples reported that PrEP offered them an additional strategy to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, meet their fertility desires, and cope with HIV serodiscordance. Remaining HIV negative at follow-up visits reinforced decisions and motivated continued adherence. Confidence in their provider's advice and client-friendly services were critical.

    February 1, 2016
    AIDS Patient Care & STDs
  • An ethnically diverse sample of 95 YMSM aged 18-30 years were asked to insert [a] placebo gel rectally before receptive anal intercourse during 12 weeks and report the product's acceptability...and likelihood of future use....We found that greater gel satisfaction was associated with increased future use intentions; however, the strength of this relationship was magnified when YMSM reported greatest satisfaction with the rectal applicator....Research... to optimize the design, properties, and characteristics of a rectal applicator...is merited.

    January 31, 2016
    AIDS Education & Prevention
  • With HIV funding plateauing and the number of people living with HIV increasing due to the rollout of life-saving antiretroviral therapy, policy makers are faced with increasingly tighter budgets to manage the ongoing HIV epidemic. Cost-effectiveness and modeling analyses can help determine which HIV interventions may be of best value.

    January 30, 2016
    Curr HIV/AIDS Rep
  • The primary objective of this doctoral research is to identify gaps in the international GCP codes in light of the new scenarios of globalized clinical research, with focus on sub-Saharan Africa, and to formulate recommendations for their improvement. The secondary objective is to compare the challenges related to clinical research standards versus the challenges related to the standards for quality of medicines in resource-limited settings.

    January 27, 2016
    Leuven

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