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20 MARCH 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 12

Media Coverage

  • PEPFAR released its eleventh annual report to Congress, which discusses its impact on addressing HIV/AIDS. The summary states, "...PEPFAR's impact far exceeds the reduction of suffering, death, and despair caused by one disease. PEPFAR has built infrastructure, strengthened local health systems, and provided invaluable les­sons and experience that will continue to in­form and improve responses to unforeseen health crises in the future".
     
    March 19, 2015
    Kaiser Family Foundation
  • A group of HIV-positive women, who were coerced or forced into being sterilised, are seeking redress for what happened to them and are asking that the law be changed to stop the discrimination. Her Rights Initiative (HRI) and Oxfam lodged a formal complaint on Wednesday with the South African Commission on Gender Equality regarding the sterilisations.
    March 19, 2015
    Independent Online
  • New antiretrovirals (ARVs), particularly the potentially “game-changing” ARV dolutegravir, offer major potential to meet the compelling need for simpler and better HIV treatment for tens of millions of people in the coming decade. Advantages include substantially lower manufacturing cost, fewer side effects, and less risk of resistance. But key obstacles must be addressed in order to develop and introduce new ARVs in specific combinations optimized for the needs of low- and middle-income countries.
    March 19, 2015
    Glob Health Sci Pract
  • Sonya Lockett, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Black Entertainment Network (BET), told an audience of mostly women than their discussion around HIV/AIDS should include the basics — Education, Prevention, and Testing....Head of the Emmy Award winning “Rap It Up” campaign and BET Foundation’s Women’s Health symposiums, Lockett commemorated National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, by saying that she believes in the power of collective voices in the fight against the disease.
    March 18, 2015
    Caribbean Life
  • The Ebola epidemic in West Africa exacerbated violence against women and rolled back access to reproductive healthcare in the region, ministers from Guinea and Liberia said on Wednesday....Women have been more affected by the deadly virus than men, with an infection rate of 56 percent compared to 44 percent for men, said Ndiaye Seck of UN Women.
     
    March 18, 2015
    Thomson Reuters
  • Growing uptake of medical male circumcision by men in the Rakai district of Uganda is leading to substantial reduction in HIV incidence among men in one of the districts worst affected by HIV, Xiangrong Kong reported at CROI 2015 [Abstract #158]....The study found that circumcision coverage in non-Muslim men increased from 9% 
    March 17, 2015
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • Despite being at a higher risk of catching HIV/AIDS, a mini survey conducted by Uganda Cares, an NGO, indicates that few people in slum areas use condoms or have information on HIV/AIDS. The survey also indicates that the medium like newspapers, TVs and Internet through which vital information about the virus is relayed, is too expensive for slum dwellers, resulting into more myths about HIV/AIDS transmission.
    March 17, 2015
    Daily Monitor
  • “Resource-limited settings disproportionately bear the global burden of HIV,” [Kantor et al.] wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases....“With expected increases in the prevalence of transmitted resistance worldwide, this study will help inform policy decisions related to the use of resistance testing in clinical practice in [resource-limited settings]....[Our] findings support use of genotyping prior to ART initiation in [resource-limited settings], when feasible.”
    March 17, 2015
    Healio
  • Mathematical analyses suggest that public health officials may be able to protect a broader range of the population against HPV infection and related cancers by allocating funds to encourage male HPV vaccination. “HPV vaccination among girls has stagnated at low levels in the United States and parental opposition against the vaccine is increasing,” Marc Ryser and colleagues wrote in Infectious Diseases in Children.
    March 17, 2015
    Healio
  • A drug originally developed to fight the virus that causes genital herpes could also be effective in treating HIV in some patients, the US National Institutes of Heath revealed Friday. In a study of 18 patients, researchers found that the pill valacyclovir appeared to reduce the HIV levels of patients who do not have genital herpes.
    March 16, 2015
    Red Orbit
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced today that the company and its academic collaborators were awarded a new five-year $16 million Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development Program grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This five-year grant was based on the clinical successes of Inovio's PENNVAX HIV vaccine program [and] will fund research to expand PENNVAX coverage of HIV strains [and] further enhance antibody responses generated by the vaccine.
    March 16, 2015
    DDN News
  • Charles Wira and colleagues at Dartmouth's School of Medicine have presented a comprehensive review of the role of sex hormones in the geography of the female reproductive tract and evidence supporting a "window of vulnerability" to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Published in Nature Reviews in Immunology, Wira's team presents a body of work that NIH evaluators called "a sea change" for research in the female reproductive tract.
    March 16, 2015
    Medical Xpress
  • The Medicines Patent Pool and Merck signed a licensing agreement last month for paediatric formulations of raltegravir, one of the few HIV drugs approved for children younger than three....But intellectual property expert Othoman Mellouk [of the] International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, thinks the agreement looks like a PR exercise that will not deliver improved access to medicines where they are most needed. 
     
    March 16, 2015
    SciDevNet
  • "These mothers and children all have HIV/AIDS,” said the head doctor at the country’s only children’s hospital, Simplice Kango, as more than 100 women and their children sat on benches and covered the floor waiting for treatment. Violence that erupted two years ago has slowed the campaign to diagnose and treat the illness, raising concern by health advocates that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS may rise from 3.8 percent among adults aged 19 to 45. 
    March 16, 2015
    Bloomberg
  • Levonorgestrel, a popular long-acting contraceptive implant, failed to prevent pregnancy in 3 of 20 women taking efavirenz in a pharmacokinetic study.

    March 15, 2015
    NATAP Conference Reports
  • The value of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in HIV-negative individuals at risk for infection was one of the hottest topics at CROI 2015, according to Joel Gallant, MD, MPH, immediate past chair of the HIV Medicine Association....Infectious Disease News spoke with Gallant about five important lessons learned at this year’s conference on the prevention of HIV and the future clinical implications of some of the major studies that were presented.
     
    March 14, 2015
    Healio
  • Existing algorithms to screen for anal cancer in women living with HIV could be missing many cases of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) – according to a study reported at CROI 2015)....The incidence of anal cancer among women living with HIV is at least 10 times higher than among HIV-negative women....Despite the risk, there is no consensus on the best screening algorithms for anal HSIL in women living with HIV. 
    March 12, 2015
    AIDSMap
  • A model predicting HIV transmission in San Francisco with expanded use of pre-exposure prophylaxis suggests that the number of new infections could decrease by 50% throughout the city, according to data presented at CROI 2015, Robert Grant, MD, MPH, Gladstone Institutes, said during his presentation. 
    March 9, 2015
    Healio
  • It is unlikely that one single approach will achieve a cure for HIV infection, delegates at a community cure workshop held the day before the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections heard last week.
     
    March 9, 2015
    AIDSMap
  • Globalization has served to curtail rather than expand school-based sexual instruction. The more the world has become interconnected, the more sex ed has come under attack....But millions of people see their culture as a bulwark against sex among youth, who should have no choice in the matter. That’s why schools everywhere should proceed with caution….
    March 9, 2015
    New York Times
  • The evidence is ubiquitous.....About 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, the report finds. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex, it says....The subject is under sharp focus as delegates from around the world gather to assess how well governments have done since they promised to ensure women’s equality 20 years ago — and what to do next.
    March 9, 2015
    New York Times
  • With a pack of 36 condoms costing $755 online, the prohibitive cost of safe sex in Venezuela threatens to increase teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS rates and the number of backstreet abortions, says local family planning NGO Plafam....Says Edward Romero, head of Plafam, "It's almost impossible to buy condoms and contraceptive pills and other forms of contraception...across much of Venezuela....The situation is critical."
    March 5, 2015
    Thomson Reuters

Published Research

  • Social benefit programs, doctors and/or nurses, and newspapers and/or magazines were selected as the top three sources of HPV-related knowledge. Mothers, parents who work in the health care sector, and parents with a higher annual income or vaccination experience...showed a better knowledge base....In particular, the knowledge level of parents with prior consultation regarding HPV vaccines was higher.
     
    March 19, 2015
    Annals of Epidemiology
  • Using New York City HIV surveillance data, two indicators were compared with a new one, weighted viral suppression, which accounts for both the status and duration of viral suppression. The indicator based on last viral load suppression is the most straightforward to calculate and understand and also approximates the weighted indicator, which measures viral suppression for the entire analysis period. Therefore, we support using the indicator based on last viral load suppression to monitor the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

    March 19, 2015
    Annals of Epidemiology
  • Incident AIDS diagnosis rates (IARs) among female persons who inject drugs (PWID) in large US metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) have declined more slowly than among male PWID. This suggests a need for increased targeting of prevention and treatment programs and for research on MSA level conditions that may drive differences in declining AIDS rates among female and male PWID.
    March 19, 2015
    Annals of Epidemiology
  • This work demonstrates that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory  without requiring any stored energy; all necessary power is drawn from a smartphone....Rwandan health care workers used the dongle to test whole blood obtained via fingerprick from 96 patients enrolling into care at prevention of mother-to-child transmission clinics or voluntary counseling and testing centers. Patient preference for the dongle was 97% compared to laboratory-based tests.
    March 19, 2015
    Sci Transl Med
  • Bellan and colleagues’ study has shaken our faith in a result taken for granted for a decade. Their simulations estimate that acute infectivity is probably no more than a few times higher than chronic infectivity, and may not have contributed a large fraction of transmissions in the hyper-epidemics of SSA. These findings affirm the role that TasP can play....Despite Bellan and colleagues’ insightful analysis, the debate may not yet settle. 
    March 19, 2015
    PLoS Med
  • Vaccine development is driven not by the risk that a pathogen poses to people, but by the economic pay-off....That helps to explain why, more than a year on from the first confirmed cases of the ongoing Ebola outbreak, no vaccine is available, even though work started towards one more than a decade ago....Governments and donors need to invest in public health capability, and they need to take on more of the risk of investing in vaccine development.
     
    March 19, 2015
    Nature
  • Our results indicate that these are substantial overestimates of HIV-1 acute phase infectivity, biased by unmodeled heterogeneity in transmission rates between couples and by inconsistent censoring. Elevated acute phase infectivity is therefore less likely to undermine TasP interventions than previously thought. Heterogeneity in infectiousness and susceptibility may still play an important role in intervention success and deserves attention in future analyses.
    March 19, 2015
    PLoS Med
  • Researchers explored FSWs’ experiences with intended pregnancy and access to antenatal care (ANC) and HIV testing in two regions of Tanzania. Although pregnant FSWs typically sought ANC services, most did not disclose their occupation, complicating provision of appropriate care. In addition, women were sometimes denied services when they were not accompanied by their husband.
    March 19, 2015
    Studies in Family Planning
  • Using survey data from 1,275 adolescents in southeastern Ghana, we examine...differences in peer group characteristics [as well as] associations between peer group characteristics and self-reported sexual initiation and multiple partnerships. Among males, perceived peer norms favoring sex increased the odds of acquiring multiple partners.
    March 19, 2015
    Studies in Family Planning
  • Global public health should rely on those research methods that best answer the pressing questions at hand. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and other rigorous impact evaluation methods have a critical role to play in public health.
     
    March 19, 2015
    Glob Health Sci Pract
  • While randomized controlled trials (RCTs) can and do make valuable contributions, they also have severe limitations, including in answering the basic question of “Does it work?” and, even more so, in steering how to proceed with complex public health programming at scale. They deserve no exalted position in the pantheon of methodologies for evidence-based public health.
    March 19, 2015
    Glob Health Sci Pract
  • The primary objective of this study was to estimate the average cost of performing VMMCs in the mobile clinic compared to those performed in health facilities (fixed sites). The MUWRP VMMC program improves access for hard to reach, relatively poor, and high-risk rural populations for a cost of $27-$38 per VMMC. Costs to patients to access services are almost certainly less in the mobile program, by reducing out-of-pocket travel expenses and lost time and associated income.
    March 18, 2015
    PLoS ONE
  • Within the human female reproductive tract (FRT), the challenge of protection against sexually transmitted infections is coupled with the need to enable successful reproduction....The...immune systems are under hormonal control, and immune protection varies with the phase of the menstrual cycle. 

    March 18, 2015
    Nature Reviews Immunology
  • Perhaps the only good news from the tragic Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia is that it may serve as a wake-up call....Because there was so little preparation, the world lost time in the current epidemic trying to answer basic questions about combating Ebola. In the next epidemic, such delays could result in a global disaster....The problem is not the fault of any single institution — it reflects a global failure.
    March 18, 2015
    NEJM
  • The 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) took place in Seattle from February 23rd to the 26th. The major news that emerged from the meeting was the extremely high degree of protection from HIV infection obtained with pre-exposure prophylaxis in two studies, PROUD and IPERGAY.

    March 18, 2015
    TAG

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