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18 December 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 51

Media Coverage

  • The new study tracks how the HIV-fighting antibodies develop over time. The findings show how a future vaccine might trigger the immune system to produce these antibodies more effectively, thus protecting against the virus.

    December 17, 2015
    Daily Mail
  • TREATMENT Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC) national co-ordinator Felix Mwanza has commended government for allowing the clinical trials on the Sondashi Formula (SF) 2000.

    December 17, 2015
    Lusaka Times
  • In a new book, No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, the sociologist Linsey McGoey traces the evolution of private philanthropy’s ‘father knows best’ approach to giving....“The question is whether the practices associated with the new philanthropy – such as tighter control of grantee decision-making; a demand for swifter indicators of project success – might be stifling ingenuity and progress rather than engendering it.”

    December 16, 2015
    Africas a Country
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was a major topic at the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) last week in Atlanta....A plenary lecture by NIAID Division of AIDS director Carl Dieffenbach and dozens of abstract presentations were devoted to different aspects of PrEP, ranging from knowledge and attitudes of users and providers, to implementation of PrEP programs in various settings

    December 16, 2015
    HIVandHepatitis
  • ....But sixty percent of European cases diagnosed last year were in Russia. The annual surveillance report released recently by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows that the number and rate of new diagnoses of HIV is continuing to rise in eastern Europe, and is also rising sharply, though from a much lower base, in central Europe.

    December 15, 2015
    aidsmap
  • Presentations focusing on HIV prevention at IDWeek 2015 were met with “enthusiasm and excitement,” according to Myron S. Cohen, MD, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina. He discusses rilpivarine and cabotegrivir, two injectable agents....The research regarding these injectable agents, as well as the increasing use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, reflect a shift in the field, according to Cohen.

    December 15, 2015
    Healio
  • A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) [has] tracked how a family of...HIV-fighting antibodies develops over time. The research shows how a future vaccine might trigger the immune system to produce these antibodies more effectively. "If you could produce these antibodies through vaccination, that would be a really fantastic start to preventing HIV," said Ian Wilson...at TSRI. The research was published December 15, 2015, in the journal Immunity.

    December 15, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Despite striking ethnic disparities in the incidence and mortality of diseases like cancer and respiratory disease, minorities are not well represented in clinical trials. A paper out in the journal PLOS Medicine says two main barriers to achieving diverse clinical trials are the expense of recruiting minority subjects, and fears of exploitation in medical research.

    December 15, 2015
    NPR
  • A trio of major clinical trials -- SMART, START, and HPTN 052 -- provide definitive evidence supporting prompt antiretroviral treatment for all people diagnosed with HIV, to improve their own health and reduce the risk of transmission to others, according to a commentary in the December 3 New England Journal of Medicine. Results from the IPERGAY study, published in the same issue, add to the growing body of evidence supporting pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention.

    December 15, 2015
    HIV&Hepatitis
  • The FDA has signed off on an expanded age indication for Merck's Gardasil 9 HPV medication, to include use in males ages 16-26. The drug -- a 9-valent vaccine form of its quadrivalent Gardasil -- was already approved for use in boys 9-15, and for girls and young women ages 9-26. The drug addresses the greatest number of HPV types among available vaccines.

    December 15, 2015
    Bio SmartBrief
  • On Friday, the National Institutes of Health revealed that it had begun to phase out controversial monkey experiments at one of its labs in Poolesville, Maryland. The action followed an aggressive yearlong campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), but an NIH director tells ScienceInsider today that financial straits—not animal rights pressures—led to the decision.

    December 14, 2015
    Science Mag
  • In December 2014, the publisher of Nature and its 48 sister journals launched a 1-year experiment: an online tool called ReadCube that allowed subscribers to share a read-only version of the subscription journal content with anyone, for free. One year later, the results are in. Although the publisher says use of the new sharing option was only "modest," the free ReadCube option is here to stay.

    December 11, 2015
    Nature
  • AIDS treatment can help HIV-negative people by quelling fear of the virus and boosting mental health and productivity, a new study demonstrates.

    December 11, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Access to harm reduction programs such as syringe exchange is lowest in rural and suburban areas [of the United States], where rates of addiction to heroin and other opioids are on the rise, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published online in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    December 10, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Since 2006, the number of industry-sponsored clinical trials studying the benefits and harms of medical treatments has risen dramatically, while the number of clinical trials funded by the NIH has fallen substantially, according to new research in the Dec. 15 issue of JAMA [that suggests]...growing influence of clinical trials being conducted by companies with a vested interest in the outcome and a dilution of the impact of government-funded trials.

    December 9, 2015
    HUB
  • The first vaccine against dengue fever won clearance in Mexico, an initial step toward preventing a mosquito-borne infection that puts half of the world’s population at risk.

    December 9, 2015
    Bloomberg
  • Young men who have sex with men and have detectable levels of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were more likely to report condomless anal sex, including with a partner not infected with HIV, than virologically suppressed young men who have sex with men, according to an article.

    December 7, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Chronic HIV infection results in exhaustion of the immune system. Exhausted T cells display inhibitory proteins on their surface, and scientists hope to be able to restore immune function by interfering with the negative signals transmitted by such proteins. A new study suggests that one such strategy blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway works, but only when the overall HIV load is low and regulatory T cells cooperate.

    December 3, 2015
    Science Daily

Published Research

  • Using highly sensitive assays, PrEP-selected resistance in plasma decays below detection by 6 months following drug cessation and remains undetectable for at least 24 months. Even high levels of resistance mutations during acute infection decay rapidly in the absence of ongoing PrEP exposure.

    January 2, 2016
    AIDS
  • How best to use antiretroviral therapy has been a topic of debate for almost three decades. The landmark START trial settled one question that should have been resolved long ago—when to initiate ART in people with HIV. Findings of START showed a 57% reduction in AIDS, severe non-AIDS events, or deaths in people with a CD4 count higher than 500 cells/μL This finding supports conclusions from observational studies and the recently completed west African TEMPRANO trial.

    January 1, 2016
    Lancet
  • The experience of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) users provides important insights into sexual practices and motivations to use PrEP, which go beyond wanting to stay free of HIV. We review emerging literature on the everyday experiences of PrEP users, which emphasizes the importance of benefits that are salient, experienced in the present, and have strong a effect.

    January 1, 2016
    Curr Opinion in HIV&AIDS
  • On 30 September 2015, as this issue was going to press, the WHO released guidelines recommending oral tenofovir-based preexposure prophylaxis be offered as part of comprehensive HIV prevention. The guidelines represent a milestone in the 30-year struggle against the global HIV epidemic, and reflect more than a decade of investigation and advocacy.

    January 1, 2016
    Curr Opinion HIV&AIDS
  • Accumulating evidence suggests that depot medroxyprogesterone acetate may increase HIV transmission, but little is known about underlying mechanisms. We propose that hypoestrogenism in depot medroxyprogesterone acetate may contribute to increased HIV transmission, present supportive evidence, and propose potential interventions to prevent or treat vaginal hypoestrogenism using vaginal estrogens.

    January 1, 2016
    AIDS
  • Although we cannot pinpoint the mechanism, we find that ART availability substantially reduces subjective mortality risk and improves mental health. These results show an undocumented economic consequence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and an important externality of medical innovation. They also provide the first evidence of a link between the disease environment and mental health.

    December 31, 2015
    Science
  • This review summarizes recent epidemiologic and biologic data, and considers the implications of new evidence on research and programmatic efforts.

    December 18, 2015
    Curr Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Currently available standard PrEP is a cost-saving intervention whose delivery should be expanded and optimized. Long-acting PrEP will likely be a very cost-effective improvement over standard PrEP but may require novel financing mechanisms that bring short-term fiscal planning efforts into closer alignment with longer-term societal objectives.

    December 18, 2015
    J Infect Dis
  • In this issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Walensky et al provide important additional context for the advent of long-acting injectable preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

    December 18, 2015
    J Infect Dis
  • The NIH today released its first agency-wide strategic plan in more than 20 years. Although the document is largely a roundup of what the agency is already doing, it has some NIH advisers wondering if the plan promises too much. Despite reservations..., one lawmaker who called for the plan thinks it is just what Congress ordered....Andy Harris (R–MD) called the plan “groundbreaking” and “an important first step toward increasing accountability and resource prioritization at NIH.”

    December 16, 2015
    Science
  • Health disparities persist across race/ethnicity for the majority of Healthy People 2010 health indicators. Most [US] physicians and scientists are informed by research extrapolated from a largely homogenous population, usually white and male....Adequate representation of diverse populations in scientific research is imperative as a matter of social justice, economics, and science.

    December 15, 2015
    PLoS Med
  • A total of 415 participants were recruited for the study and included men who have sex with men and transgender women....The dual test sensitivity for detection of T. pallidum infection was 89.2% and specificity 98.8%. For detection of HIV infection, the sensitivity of the dual test was 99.1% and specificity 99.4%. This high performing dual test should be considered for the use in clinical settings to increase uptake of simultaneous testing of HIV and syphilis and accelerate time to treatment for those who need it.

    December 15, 2015
    Sex Transm Infect
  • We studied 450 patients who reported having received a new STI diagnosis, or STI treatment, 3 months earlier....Most participants reported successfully abstaining from sex until they were adequately treated for their baseline infection (89%–90%) and from sex with potentially exposed partners until their partners were tested for HIV and other STIs (66%–70%)....Improved partner communication could facilitate an important role in the adoption of protective behaviours in the interval immediately after receiving a new STI diagnosis.

    December 15, 2015
    Sex Transm Infect
  • Management of...HIV...is challenging in resource-limited settings, because health workers might have inadequate clinical expertise, are often overworked, and have little training in use of electronic health records. Scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa through large-scale treatment programmes is accompanied by the major challenge of early identification and management of growing numbers of patients experiencing ART failure.

    December 15, 2015
    Lancet HIV
  • Clinical Decision Support System (CDSS) significantly improved the likelihood of appropriate and timely action on immunological treatment failure. We expect our findings will be generalisable to virological monitoring of patients with HIV receiving ART once countries implement the 2015 WHO recommendation to scale up viral load monitoring.

    December 15, 2015
    Lancet
  • We generated structures of inferred antibody intermediates by X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy to elucidate the molecular events that occurred during evolution of this family....Furthermore, we determined a crystal structure of the recombinant BG505 SOSIP.664 HIV-1 trimer with a PGT121 family member at 3.0 Å that, in concert with these antibody intermediate structures, provides insights to advance design of HIV vaccine candidates.

    December 15, 2015
    Immunity
  • In a major shakeup for the HIV/AIDS research community, the NIH today announced it will no longer support setting aside a fixed 10% of its budget—or $3 billion this year—to fund research on the disease. The agency also plans to reprogram $65 million of its AIDS research grant funding this year to focus more sharply on ending the epidemic. The changes follow growing pressure in Congress and from some advocacy groups for NIH to reallocate its funding based on the public health burden a disease causes.

    December 11, 2015
    Science
  • Three themes emerged: Homeless youth frequently engage in risky sexual behavior, sometimes as a way to cope with stress; often trade sex, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for such necessities as money or a place to sleep; and many experienced childhood sexual victimization or have been victimized since becoming homeless....HIV prevention methods that target stress and stigma while respecting youths’ self-reliance may help reduce sexual risk behaviors.

    December 4, 2015
    Perspectives

Announcements

  • Developed after hearing from hundreds of stakeholders and scientific advisers, and in collaboration with leadership and staff of NIH’s Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs), the plan is designed to complement the ICOs’ individual strategic plans that are aligned with their congressionally mandated missions [and] will ensure the agency remains well positioned to capitalize on new opportunities for scientific exploration and address new challenges for human health. You can find the NIH strategic wide plan here.

    December 16, 2015