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21 August 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 34

Media Coverage

  • After success in conducting Malaria candidate vaccine for children waiting approval from World Health Organization, the UNC Project in Malawi is planning to carry out tests of HIV vaccine. Professor Francis Martinson the UNC Project Country Director, disclosed that the study only awaits on approval of their application by the National Health Sciences Research Committee.

    August 21, 2015
    Nyasa Times
  • Globally adolescent girls in low and middle-income countries continue to face unmet needs when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health, according to a report published by the Guttmacher Institute.

    August 19, 2015
    Science Speaks
  • Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health took a close look at the state of affairs in the drug research business over the past 50 years, and found plenty of reasons for despair....The number of scientists working in the field has increased nine-fold since 1965, they say, while the NIH budget has increased four-fold and the number of published papers has soared. And all that added scientific power and cash leave life expectancy gains exactly where they started, at two months per year.

    August 19, 2015
    Fierce BiotechResearch
  • Due to wide variation in immunization reimbursement, administration of recommended vaccines to appropriate candidates at urban HIV clinics could result in potential net losses of $100,000 annually for each clinic, according to recent findings. Michael S. Saag, MD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues investigated the estimated cost of vaccinating 2,887 eligible patients with Gardasil, Prevnar and Zostavax at a US Ryan White Part C academically affiliated HIV clinic in Alabama in 2013.

    August 18, 2015
    Healio
  • CLR01, referred to as the "tweezer" molecule because of its shape, has been trialed by a team at the University of Pennsylvania and Ulm University in Germany, which believes...it could be engineered into a vaginal or anal gel that instantly destroys virus particles. "We think that CLR01 could be more effective than other microbicides that are in development because of its dual action, its safety in terms of side effects and its potential broad application," commented professor James Shorter, coauthor on an article on the find published in eLife.

    August 18, 2015
    Wired
  • A multifaceted farming intervention can reduce food insecurity while improving HIV outcomes in patients in Kenya, according to a randomized, controlled trial led by researchers at UC San Francisco. The study found that participants in the intervention arm, who received agricultural and financial support, were able to increase the quantity and quality of food consumed, their CD4 T-cell counts increased, and their rate of viral suppression increased by about one half. In contrast, both tCD4 cell counts and rate of suppression fell for those in the control arm.

    August 18, 2015
    Science Daily
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which has long waged a vociferous and largely isolated battle against Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has finally begun to capitulate, offering measured support for the HIV prevention method.

    August 18, 2015
    POZ
  • Gilead Sciences Inc., basking in the success of its cure for hepatitis C, is setting ambitious goals to vanquish two other major viral scourges: HIV and hepatitis B....The biotech giant’s executives say Gilead is trying to maintain its position on the front lines of battle against the viral illnesses, even as it branches out into new disease areas such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions.

    August 17, 2015
    Bloomberg
  • Researchers found a small but statistically significant decrease in bone mineral density in the hip and spine for HIV-seronegative patients taking Truvada daily for pre-exposure prophylaxis, according to recent data.

    August 17, 2015
    Healio
  • Since the specific virus was identified in 1984, nearly three dozen vaccines have been tested, without success. Now another is being clinically tested in labs around the country and the only testing site in Texas is here in Austin. Tekton Research is launching a two year study of the new vaccine. They are taking on willing volunteer subjects over the next few months.

    August 16, 2015
    KXAN
  • About 27,000 people in West Africa have been infected with the Ebola virus and more than 11,000 of them have died since the outbreak began last year. Many could have been saved if an effective vaccine had been available. But the world relies on drug companies to create new vaccines and medications, and they have no financial incentive to do so for diseases that mostly affect poor countries. Clearly, the world needs a better mechanism for vaccine development.

    August 14, 2015
    NY Times
  • People with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection did not experience liver inflammation 'flares' or other adverse events when they used or stopped using Truvada for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), according to an analysis from the iPrEx study presented at the Eighth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015) last month in Vancouver.

    August 14, 2015
    aidsmap
  • The early phase clinical trial...has vaccines similar to RV144, commonly known as the Thai Trial, which cut the risk of HIV infection by about 31 per cent. The trial to be known as HVTN 107 will start simultaneously in South Africa and Mozambique...says Lynda Stranix-Chibanda, clinical researcher in Zimbabwe directing the trial for the University of Zimbabwe-University of San Francisco Collaborative Research Programme.

    August 12, 2015
    Bulawayo24
  • Beliefs about possible toxic interactions between ART and illicit drugs are causing large numbers of people living with HIV who use drugs to intentionally miss doses of their HIV treatment when planning drug use, investigators report in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes online. The prospective study involved 530 people reporting current drug use in Atlanta. This planned non-adherence was associated with sub-optimal compliance to treatment and poor control of viral load.

    August 12, 2015
    aidsmap
  • A commentary published online today in The Lancet co-authored by leaders of global funding agencies and organizations as well as leading researchers, clinicians, and civil society workers responding to HIV globally calls for immediate access to antiretroviral treatment for all people infected with HIV, without rationing based on geographic location or advanced state of illness. The commentary focuses on the Vancouver Consensus, which emerged at the 2015 International AIDS Society conference last month.

    August 7, 2015
    Science Speaks
  • This updated fact sheet examines the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, highlighting the latest global estimates from UNAIDS, strategies for treatment and prevention, and US government and global responses.

    July 31, 2015
    Kaiser Family Foundation

Published Research

  • HIV stigma is frequently thought to be driven by ignorance and lack of education. We explored the causal relationship between education and HIV stigma in Uganda. A universal primary education policy change served as a natural experiment. We found no evidence that education had a causal effect on reducing HIV stigma.

    October 1, 2015
    Science Direct
  • Here, we describe a novel core–matrix intravaginal ring (IVR), the MZCL IVR, which effectively delivered...four active pharmaceutical ingredients (API): MIV-150 (targets HIV-1), zinc acetate (ZA; targets HIV-1 and HSV-2), carrageenan (CG; targets HPV and HSV-2), and levonorgestrel (LNG; targets unintended pregnancy). Results demonstrate proof-of-concept of a novel core–matrix IVR for sustained and simultaneous delivery of diverse molecules for the prevention of HIV, HSV-2 and HPV acquisition, as well as unintended pregnancy.

    September 10, 2015
    J Controlled Release
  • Here we investigated efficacy of the TFV gel against vaginal transmission of a TFV‐resistant SHIV containing the K65R mutation...and its relationship to drug levels in vaginal tissues. Both the modest resistance conferred by K65R and the high TFV‐DP exposure in vaginal lymphocytes, likely explain the observed protection....These data will facilitate the development of TFV delivery platforms that have high activity on both wild‐type and TFV‐resistant viruses.

    August 20, 2015
    Retrovirology
  • Less than half of sexually active HIV-infected women accessing ART in rural Uganda reported using effective contraception, of whom 44% relied exclusively on the male condom. Use of contraception was more likely when both the male and female partner expressed concordant desires to limit future fertility, emphasizing the importance of engaging men in reproductive health programming. These findings highlight the need to expand access to a wider range of longer-acting, female-controlled contraceptive methods.

    August 20, 2015
    Contraception
  • Median follow-up time was 50.4 months; the proportion of 180-day periods with adequate CD4+ cell counts was 69% while the proportion with adequate monitoring was 62%....In HIV-infected participants receiving ART in the WHO Region of the Americas, CD4+ cell count and viral load monitoring was often carried out less frequently than regional guidelines recommend. The laboratory costs of monitoring varied greatly.

    August 20, 2015
    WHO
  • In Cameroon, median CD4+ cell counts at ART initiation increased from 140 cells/μl in 2007–2009 to 163 cells/μl in 2010. Estimated average time from seroconversion to ART initiation decreased from 10.4 years to 9.8 years [and] delay in ART initiation increased from 3.4 years to 5.8 years. The estimated time to initiate ART and delay in ART initiation indicate that progress in Cameroon is insufficient. These indicators should help monitor whether public health interventions to accelerate ART initiation are successful.

    August 20, 2015
    WHO Bulletin
  • The lack of robust, classical vaccines against virulent viruses has prompted the search for alternative approaches to the prevention and treatment of infection. A key target in these efforts has been the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), in which the identification of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) in patients led to attempts at passive prophylaxis through the administration of protein. Although this practice appears to be safe in humans, logistical and compliance issues make the maintenance of therapeutic levels of antibodies highly challenging.

    August 20, 2015
    NEJM
  • Our goal was to develop and evaluate a simple self-taken sexual risk quiz for participants, ordering an online STI self-collection test kit to determine whether score predicted infection status. More females (N=836) than males (N=558) provided voluntary risk scores. There was a higher STI infection rate in females (14.0%) than in males (7.0%) for having any STI. Results of a participant's own risk quiz score independently predicted STI positivity for women, but not for men.

    August 18, 2015
    Sex Transm Infect
  • CLR01 counteracts both host factors that may be important for HIV transmission and the pathogen itself. These combined anti-amyloid and antiviral activities make CLR01 a promising topical microbicide for blocking infection by HIV and other sexually transmitted viruses.

    August 18, 2015
    eLIFE
  • Reductions in HIV incidence with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for men who have sex with men (MSM) will require significant coverage of those at risk. We propose a simplified framework, similar to the HIV care continuum, to achieve protection with PrEP as follows: 1. At-risk MSM; 2. Awareness of and willingness to take PrEP; 3. Access to healthcare; 4. Receiving a prescription; and 5. Adhering to effective PrEP. We evaluated the PrEP care continuum on an Atlanta cohort of MSM and projected how many MSM might achieve protection from HIV.

    August 13, 2015
    Clin Infect Dis
  • Despite the demonstrated efficacy of PrEP, and the approval by regulatory bodies in the US, uptake has not been rapid. Part of the problem is that PrEP awareness remains low, albeit having increased somewhat over the past few years...Medical mistrust remains entrenched...another major barrier is posed by medication and health services costs.

    August 13, 2015
    Clin Infect Dis
  • Although previous globally significant outbreaks, such as those of the human immunodeficiency virus, influenza, and the severe acute respiratory syndrome, highlighted many...weaknesses, the political will needed to reform the global public health framework has failed....An independent, multinational Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future has been established to recommend a more effective global architecture for mitigating the threat of epidemic infectious diseases.

    August 5, 2015
    NEJM
  • The information provided in this study constitutes a major contribution to comprehensively inform the scientific community....Our results show that the therapeutic advances since the late 1990s and removal of restrictions on hormonal contraception use have not led to the expected shift in contraception patterns. There is an urgent need to promote dual method protection, as condom use may decrease in the future in the context of the preventive effect of ART.

    August 1, 2015
    Contraception
  • This review summarizes issues raised during a satellite session at the first HIV Research for Prevention (R4P) conference, held in Cape Town, on October 31, 2014. We explore key STIs challenging public health today, new biomedical prevention approaches including multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs), and the scientific and regulatory hurdles that must be overcome to make combination prevention tools a reality.

    July 31, 2015
    Trends in Microbiology
  • Multivariate logistic regression modeling indicated that coital frequency, site, contraception, and partner age difference had a significant impact on adherence.

    July 31, 2015
    AIDS & Behavior
  • Over 10 years, a programme of PrEP and ART for high-risk serodiscordant couples was projected to avert 43% of HIV infections compared to current practice with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $1340 per infection averted. This was comparable to ART expansion alone, which would avert 37% of infections with an ICER of $1452....The annual cost of PrEP in this programme is less than $100 per serodiscordant couple if implemented in public clinics.

    July 20, 2015
    JIAS
  • Behavioural interventions have had limited impact in part due to not effectively addressing the context, broader sexual norms and expectations, and structural factors that increase risk and vulnerability....Social marketing, adherence support, and behavioural economic interventions should be evaluated as part of PrEP demonstration projects among young African women in terms of their effectiveness in increasing demand and optimizing uptake and effective use of PrEP.

    July 20, 2015
    JIAS

Announcements

  • amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health are announcing continuation of the amfAR HIV Scholars Program: a training program for junior investigators from low- and middle-income countries who are interested in conducting HIV research among gay men, other men who have sex with men (MSM), and/or transgender individuals (collectively, GMT). Applications due date is 17 September 2015 at 5:00 PM EDT.

    August 17, 2015