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17 July 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 29

Media Coverage

  • AIDS research has made immense progress over the last decades, but there's still a lot to be done, Nobel laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi told DW. She believes profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies to be a big problem.

    July 17, 2015
    DW
  • Recently, my mind, my thoughts and my conscience have been troubled by what I perceive as increasing reports in the print media of divorce cases in our local courts, on the grounds that one spouse had not revealed a positive HIV status to their partner....Whenever I read such a report, I feel as if all our efforts to fight against HIV-based stigma and discrimination and how this impedes the fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic, are going nowhere.

    July 16, 2015
    Post Zambia
  • The number of new HIV cases diagnosed in San Francisco decreased by more than 18 percent between 2013 and 2014, and deaths among people with HIV also fell during the same period, according to a recent progress report on the city's Getting to Zero initiative presented to the San Francisco Health Commission.

    July 16, 2015
    Bay Area Reporter
  • A recent experimental HIV vaccine...provided significant protection against Simian Immunodeficiency Virus to two-thirds of the monkeys vaccinated....One of the most refreshing aspects of this study is that a vaccine designed to [improve] on ones previously tried...proved about 50% more potent. This shows that vaccines can be improved on and the immune responses they generate fine-tuned, [and] is representative of the kind of solid progress researchers have been making towards an effective vaccine.

    July 15, 2015
    aidsmap
  • ...A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS finds that although there was a slight increase in funding to respond to HIV in low- and middle-income countries in 2014, seven of 14 donor governments actually decreased funding, two remained flat and funding from five governments increased....Still, 2014 funding levels are the highest to date....Most of the increase can be attributed to the United Kingdom, without which overall funding would have dropped.

    July 15, 2015
    Kaiser Family Foundation
  • A pre-exposure prophylaxis rollout in Kenya would be the most effective if PrEP is prioritized for those at highest risk for infection, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers developed a mathematical model projecting the effects of various factors on a theoretical PrEP rollout in the Nyanza province of Kenya, which has an estimated HIV prevalence of 14 percent, or 370,000 HIV-positive individuals in an adult population of 2.65 million.

    July 15, 2015
    AIDSMEDS
  • “Understanding why [the vaccine] appeared to work in some individuals and may not have worked in others is really paramount to moving the field closer to an effective [HIV] vaccine,” said Bruce Walker, director at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard, who was not involved in the work. “We don't yet know enough about how to turn vaccine non-responders into responders, but this is an important first step.”

    July 15, 2015
    The Scientist
  • More than half of all people will have an STD at some point in their lifetime, and there are 19.7 million new STDs contracted in the U.S. every year....But while we’re far from living in an STD-free utopia, there are some promising advancements in sexual health on the horizon. "Multi-prevention technologies," or MPTs, are products that combine protection against pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs.

    July 14, 2015
    New York Magazine
  • The global goal of getting 15 million people on life-saving antiretroviral treatment has been met nine months early, the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) announced today. “As you read this sentence, three new people will access life-saving HIV treatment for the first time,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director. He described reaching the goal as “one of the greatest achievements in the history of global health, financing and development”.

    July 14, 2015
    Health-e
  • The latest report from UNAIDS released July 14th contains much good news....The number of AIDS-related deaths and new infections a year have fallen since 2005 by 41% and 24% respectively [and] now stand at 1.2m and 2m....The $22 billion reckoned necessary to keep the show on the road this year will probably be raised successfully....AIDS activists are ever-wary of a slackening of effort. But if progress continues at the current rate, the report suggests, the epidemic could be over by 2030.

    July 14, 2015
    Economist
  • The number of new HIV cases diagnosed in San Francisco decreased by more than 18% between 2013 and 2014, and deaths among people with HIV also fell during the same period, according to a progress report on the city's "Getting to Zero" initiative presented to the San Francisco Health Commission last week. "The decline in new infections and deaths is very encouraging and shows we are on our way to zero," said Susan Buchbinder, SF Department of Public Health.

    July 14, 2015
    HIV&Hepatitis
  • After years of fighting off safety concerns and a perceived sex-related stigma for their HPV vaccines, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline will face another test with their respective jabs in Europe. On Monday, the European Medicines Agency announced a safety review of the vaccines that'll focus on rare reports of two serious conditions....There are no recommendation changes for the vaccines while the study is underway.

    July 13, 2015
    Fierce Biotech
  • Sixty-seven per cent of all patients who were failing second-line ART achieved viral re-suppression after intensified adherence support was provided, according to a study presented at the 7th South African AIDS Conference by Dr Vivian Cox from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) in Khayelitsha, a large informal settlement situated 40 km outside of Cape Town in South Africa.

    July 13, 2015
    aidsmap
  • The increasing demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is likely to increase the likelihood that some marginalised individuals living with HIV sell some of their prescribed medication to pill brokers and drug dealers, according to a study presented...in Stellenbosch, South Africa last week. Steven Kurtz told the conference that several reports have documented street markets for diverted antiretrovirals in the United States....Economic vulnerability is the key explanation.

    July 13, 2015
    aidsmap
  • It’s no surprise that a sudden summer heat wave can kill the elderly....But will more old folks survive milder winters, balancing out the loss of life in the summers? A new study suggests not....Study author Joel Schwartz, an environmental epidemiologist at Harvard University, says the killing power of jumpy temperature swings is greater than that of AIDS....

    July 13, 2015
    Science Mag
  • At the UN’s Third Financing for Development conference, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between 13-16 July, world leaders will look for ways to pay for the ambitious and costly sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include ending poverty and achieving food security in every corner of the globe by 2030. Addis is about moving from billions in financing commitments to trillions.

    July 13, 2015
    The Guardian
  • In a report in the journal Lancet, researchers point out large gaps in the money raised and dispatched for public health purposes and the medical needs of countries, particularly in the developing world, to keep their populations healthy....Overall, donor countries have spent only half of the $6 billion that the WHO says is needed to maintain global public health. What’s lacking, the authors say, is a more focused system for investing in global health that emphasizes programs designed to achieve certain public health functions....

    July 13, 2015
    TIME
  • While most health care in Africa is delivered by nurses rather than doctors, little medical research is done by nurses or for them, and too much is determined by donors’ priorities rather than by the challenges that African nurses actually are facing, according to a new study. The study was done by researchers from the Columbia University School of Nursing in conjunction with nursing schools in Kenya and Malawi, published by the International Journal of Nursing Studies and presented last week at a nursing conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

    July 13, 2015
    New York Times
  • ...Incubated by IAVI, the Human Vaccines Project is a new public-private partnership that brings together leading academic research centers, industry, governments and nonprofits to accelerate development of vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious diseases and cancers by decoding the human immune system....VUMC has pledged a multi-year commitment which will include a large-scale global effort to decipher the “Human Immunome,” the basic components of the human immune system, to enhance design of next-generation vaccines and immunotherapies.

    July 13, 2015
    Infection Control Today
  • When I met America’s top doc he asked me abruptly: “What can I do for you?” Nervously I answered: “What makes a good communicator?” “Know thy audience,” he replied with power and conviction.... Fauci’s right – if there were a cardinal rule of communication, this would probably be it. Fauci won’t accept a speaking engagement unless he’s confident he has enough information on the audience.

    July 12, 2015
    SuperCommunicator
  • If we have learned anything over the 30-year course of the AIDS epidemic, it is that we would be foolish to put all of our HIV prevention eggs in the treatment basket. It is essential that medical interventions like early treatment and PrEP are combined with robust and aggressive efforts to create health care settings that are affirmative and welcoming for LGBT patients and others who are vulnerable to HIV infection.

    July 12, 2015
    Huffington Post
  • The ministry of health is seeking for Shs 450bn to conduct an integrated house-to-house testing for HIV/Aids across the country. Uganda already employs a number of testing strategies....However, it remains one of the three countries that contribute 48% of the new infections in Africa....Dr Elioda Tumwesigye...is optimistic that a home to home service will address the problem....However, Kavuma Amos, a trader in Kamwokya market says that the campaign will likely infringe upon people's privacy.

    July 11, 2015
    The Observer
  • People with HIV receiving their HIV treatment...in community-based ART adherence clubs close to or in a patient’s home demonstrated extremely high rates of retention in care and adherence to treatment, according to a study presented at the 7th South African AIDS Conference by Suhair Solomon from Médicins Sans Frontières and conducted in Khayelitsha, a large informal settlement of 500,000 people outside Cape Town.

    July 10, 2015
    aidsmap
  • In 2009, Washington, DC, officials announced that the district's HIV rate, hovering around 3 percent of the population, was higher than that of West Africa. Just six years later, thanks to a host of new policies at the federal, local, and nonprofit level, there has been a nearly 60 percent decrease in new diagnoses....Matthew Rand, health educator and self-test project coordinator at the Whitman-Walker center, said a combination of condom distribution, a needle sharing program that removed contaminated needles from the streets, and an increase in testing all contributed.

    July 10, 2015
    VICE News
  • The Health Ministry will issue a notification by the end of July allowing midwives trained by the government to conduct HIV testing on pregnant women to diagnose the infection at an early stage....Midwives will be trained by state and district AIDS control organizations to conduct rapid tests to check HIV virus....and allowed to do the tests anytime during the pregnancy prior to delivery. The government may consider allowing ayurvedacharyas or AYUSH doctors to conduct HIV tests at a later stage.

    July 10, 2015
    Medindia
  • For many years, women in Africa have been dying from HIV, AIDS and pregnancy-related causes....Worried about this..., African First Ladies came together to form...the Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS, established to provide a collective voice for women and children infected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa....At present, [its Steering Committee] comprises Northern Africa, Algeria; Eastern Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania; Western Africa, Senegal and Ghana; Central Africa, Chad and Congo, and Southern Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

    July 10, 2015
    Ghana Web
  • Site B Men’s Clinic was launched by the City of Cape Town [in Khayelitsha] early last year in response to growing evidence that men and women do not benefit equally from the state’s HIV programme....Although there is significant evidence that men don’t go to clinics for HIV services in the same numbers or as frequently as women, and suffer as a result, there is little in the scientific literature to suggest why. MSF and the nongovernmental organisation Anova Health conducted a survey among 200 men living in Khayelitsha in 2012 to try to close this research gap.

    July 10, 2015
    Mail & Guardian
  • “Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale,” wrote German doctor Rudolph Virchow in 1848. He posited that medicine must point out problems and their solutions. This also defines the position of Professor Helen Rees, founder and executive director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, personal professor in the Wits department of obstetrics and gynaecology, honorary professor at the department of clinical research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a fellow of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University.

    July 10, 2015
    Mail&Guardian
  • HIV drugs are proving so effective in containing the virus that GlaxoSmithKline foresees a time, a decade away, when its most profitable business unit may no longer have a purpose. “There are diminishing returns in HIV,” said David Redfern, Glaxo’s chief strategy officer and chairman of its AIDS treatment unit ViiV Healthcare....In the meantime, Glaxo aims to steal market share from Gilead with drugs that simplify treatment regimens and cause fewer side effects.

    July 9, 2015
    Bloomberg
  • A parliamentary deputy from Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, Americo Ubisse, on Wednesday suggested that it should be obligatory for couples to take an HIV test before getting married. Speaking in the debate on a report from the Parliamentary Office on the Fight against HIV and AIDS, Ubisse said “it is becoming urgent to take new initiatives, which make citizens, particularly young people, more aware”....No other deputy was willing to support this proposal.

    July 9, 2015
    All Africa
  • A startup company at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany, New York that is developing technology that someday could kill cells infected with HIV or Ebola, has received $1 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. The company, HocusLocus develops technology that allows researchers to switch on or off the expression of a desired gene. That technology can kill targeted cells and viruses.

    July 9, 2015
    Albany Business Review
  • Every $1 spent on community-based HIV prevention programs in Ontario saves $5 in treatment costs, a new study has found. The programs have prevented more than 16,000 people from becoming infected with HIV over 25 years and saved Ontario's health care system about $6.5 billion, said lead author Dr. Sean Rourke of St. Michael's Hospital.

    July 9, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Since the treatment has become available, HIV is often described as 'undetectable' and the risk of transmission has been drastically reduced. However, the epidemic is still quite present in the lives of many gay and bisexual men ... and in public spaces. This often overlooked dimension of the disease has been brought to light by Gabriel Girard of the University of Montreal's Public Health Research Institute.

    July 9, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Research with human tissue and cells suggests that genetic variations, in addition to failure to comply with treatment regimens, may account for some failures of an anti-HIV drug to treat and prevent HIV infection.... Investigators at Johns Hopkins found that tenofovir, marketed as Viread, is processed differently according to cell location, so that if the drug is eventually marketed as a topical gel, it could work differently depending on whether it is applied to the vagina or the rectum.

    July 9, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Neutralizing antibodies (Nabs) are immune proteins that recognize, bind to, and trigger the elimination of virus before it can establish a chronic infection. How to elicit a potent Nab response capable of protecting against different HIV subtypes and against different modes of infection is critical to the development of an AIDS vaccine. Two new studies provide results on Nabs that could help guide vaccine design.

    July 9, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Not-for-profit drug-device developer Medicines360 hired Dr. Jessica Grossman as its new CEO....Grossman is no stranger to the organization — she had been chair of Medicines360's for-profit subsidiary, AlliancePartners360, for the past year and on the Medicines360 board for nearly three years....Medicines360 was founded in 2009 by Victoria Hale, a former Food and Drug Administration drug evaluator and scientist at Genentech Inc.

    July 8, 2015
    Business Journal
  • Delaying antiretroviral therapy may have especially serious consequences for middle-aged and elderly HIV-positive people, according to research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. US investigators found that... “Among patients who entered care aged between 45 and 65 years, delaying ART had profoundly deleterious effects....Delaying ART until CD4 count dropped below 200 cells/mm3 increased 10-year mortality from 19%...to 28%.”

    July 8, 2015
    aidsmap
  • Transgender women living with HIV are less likely to have excellent adherence to antiretroviral treatment and durable viral suppression compared to other groups, investigators report in LGBT Health. The study also revealed that many transgender women living with HIV [in the United States] are struggling with the basic necessities of life, including food and housing....In the US, HIV prevalence among transgender women is as high as 28%.

    July 3, 2015
    aidsmap
  • Last year, Gilead Sciences paid $125 million for a ticket promising a speedy FDA review. Now the Big Biotech is cashing it in, submitting a combination HIV treatment for approval and lining up for a truncated regulatory process....The FDA created the voucher program to encourage R&D in tropical and pediatric diseases, giving any company that wins approval in those fields a tradeable coupon for a shortened review. And the value of such vouchers has skyrocketed over the past year.

    July 2, 2015
    Fierce Biotech
  • The HIV-oriented joint venture of Pfizer,, GlaxoSmithKline and Japan's Shionogi is turning to a Chinese manufacturer for a cheap supply of dolutegravir, the active ingredient in its Tivicay. The deal is seen as a way to cut the cost in China...in countries covered by ViiV's agreement forged last year with the Medicines Patent Pool to offer the drug in some countries at a lower cost.

    July 2, 2015
    Fierce Pharma Manufacturing
  • Adolescents have lower coverage of HIV testing, subsequent prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, and significantly higher early vertical transmission rates compared with adults, according to findings from three South African national surveys, presented by Trisha Ramraj at the 7th South African AIDS Conference....Infants born to adolescent mothers were three times more likely to be infected with HIV compared to adult women across all surveys.

    July 1, 2015
    aidsmap
  • Globally, about 35 million people are living with HIV, which constantly adapts and mutates creating challenges for researchers. Now, scientists at the University of Missouri are gaining a clearer idea of what a key protein in HIV looks like, which will help explain its vital role in the virus' life cycle. Armed with this clearer image of the protein, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how the body can combat the virus with the ultimate aim of producing new and more effective antiviral drugs.

    July 1, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Last week, the media went wild discussing a condom that could change colors if it came in contact with an STI. Not only is this condom chameleon just an idea at this point, it might not be the best idea....This condom-and-STI-test-wrapped-in-one is not coming soon to a pharmacy near you. It’s an interesting idea, but that’s all it is: just an idea,...a thought with theory behind it on how it might work.

    June 20, 2015
    RH Reality Check

Published Research

  • A just-released report, “Defeating AIDS—advancing global health,” in the 25 June online issue of The Lancet,....It notes that too many locales have sluggish responses and little hope of downgrading their epidemics to “low-level endemicity”. But BC, New York, and San Francisco aim to pave the way in the ending AIDS movement, which will be a central topic at an international HIV/AIDS meeting in Vancouver 19 to 22 June.

    July 17, 2015
    Science
  • As the dream of ending AIDS catches hold in a growing number of locales, Tijuana is hardly anomalous: Many places are still struggling to provide basic treatment and prevention services. Of course, people still die from AIDS in wealthy countries like the United States, which is visible from downtown Tijuana, but appropriate care is so readily available that AIDS hospices shut their doors years ago.

    July 17, 2015
    Science
  • We consider a variety of circumstances: both when education is included and not included, when testing and treatment are linked or are separate, when education is only partly effective, and when treatment leads to drug resistance. We show that education, if it is properly harnessed, can be a force strong enough to overcome the effects of antiretroviral drug resistance; however, in the absence of education, “test and treat” is likely to make the epidemic worse.

    July 16, 2015
    Journal of Applied Mathematics
  • Several studies have shown that voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) reduces the incidence of the Type-1 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in heterosexual men by up to 60%. However, there is an increased risk of transmission of STIs, including HIV, in the immediate post-operative period after receiving VMMC. This study is to understand sexual practices of couples in the post-operative period in a Coloured population in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.

    July 15, 2015
    PLoSONE
  • As the Third International Conference on Financing for Development begins in Ethiopia, Áine Markham of Médecins Sans Frontières warns that basing funding decisions on country-level finance indicators could be a step backwards for global health....The Global Fund and other initiatives such as Gavi,...which have stemmed from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), galvanised global attention and funding on fighting killer diseases and ill health. These important advances are now being eroded.

    July 13, 2015
    MSF
  • We use a new measure of donor funding that combines official development assistance (ODA) for health with additional donor spending on research and development (R&D) for diseases of poverty....This expanded definition, which we term health ODA plus, provides a more comprehensive picture of donor support for health that could reshape how policy makers will approach their support for global health.

    July 12, 2015
    Lancet
  • Single-dose nevirapine (sd-NVP) has been the main option for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV-1 in low-resource settings. However, sd-NVP can induce the selection of HIV-1 resistant mutations in mothers and infants....We found a high prevalence of NVP resistance-associated mutations (RAM) among children who were exposed to the drug regimen for PMTCT in Mozambique. The mothers’ exposure to PMTCT significantly increased the risk of NVP RAM.

    July 10, 2015
    PLoS ONE
  • 'Chemsex' typically featured more partners and a longer duration than other forms of sex, and the relationship between drug use and HIV/STI transmission risk behaviour was varied.....Among many participants with diagnosed HIV, there was little evidence that the use of drugs had significantly influenced their engagement in condomless anal intercourse (primarily with other men believed to be HIV positive), but their use had facilitated sex with more men and for longer.

    July 9, 2015
    BMJ
  • The willingness to participate [WTP] of female sex workers [FSWs] enrolled in this study was high (53.47%, 216/404). Possible benefits from enrolment in the trial were positively associated with WTP, while concern about a hypothetical microbicide, potential physical harm, economic loss from participation, and fear of family or social isolation were negatively associated with WTP.

    July 9, 2015
    Science Direct
  • The search for antibodies that prevent HIV infection has been a 30-year roller-coaster ride—and immunologist Dennis Burton has been on board for most of it. Although he and other researchers think that the quest is closer to success today than ever before, Burton remains measured in his optimism about the field.

    July 7, 2015
    Nature
  • We assess the impact of expanded HIV treatment for the prevention of AIDS-related deaths and simulate four treatment scenarios for Nigeria and South Africa....ART access in 2013 has averted an estimated 1,051,354 and 422,448 deaths in South Africa and Nigeria, respectively. Increasing ART coverage in these two countries to meet the proposed UN 90-90-90 Target by 2020 could avert 2.2 and 1.2 million deaths, respectively.

    July 6, 2015
    PLoS ONE
  • The VOICE trial assessed daily oral TDF, oral TDF-FTC, or 1% TFV vaginal gel in preventing HIV-1 infection in African women. None proved effective.... Adherence appeared high (86%) based on women's returns of empty pill boxes and applicators [but] measurable drug plasma levels in random samples were only 30% for TDF, 29% for TDF-FTC, and 25% for TFV gel. Consistent with other studies, these data show that TDF-based regimens proven to prevent HIV infection are ineffective when adherence is poor.

    July 1, 2015
    Obstretical & Gynecological Survey
  • In 2011–2013, 19% of persons aged 15–44 had been tested for HIV in the past year, an increase from 17% in both 2002 and 2006–2010. Among females in 2011–2013, 22% had been tested for HIV in the past year, an increase from 20% in 2002. Among males in 2011–2013, 16% had been tested for HIV in the past year, with no significant increase since 2002. For all time periods shown, females were more likely than males to have had an HIV test in the past year.

    June 30, 2015
    CDC

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