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24 February 2017: Volume 18 Issue 8

Media Coverage

  • Early next week the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s board of directors will select a new executive director. Last week, the board announced three finalists vying to lead the Swiss organization, which distributes roughly $4.5 billion each year to country-led programs combatting the three infectious diseases.

    February 24, 2017
    General
    devex
  • A new vaccine-based treatment for HIV has succeeded in suppressing the virus in five patients, raising hopes further research could help prevent AIDS without the need for daily drugs. Researchers combined two innovative HIV vaccines with a drug usually used to treat cancer in the trial... After receiving the treatment, the virus was undetectable in five out of 24 participants and its spread was stopped by their immune systems, reported the New Scientist. One of them has been drug-free for seven months.

    February 24, 2017
    Independent
  • One question dominated discussions at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the weekend....The question was phrased in various ways, but the variations all boiled down to: how should science and scientists respond to the administration of President Donald Trump?...But it’s the wrong question. It is not Trump that scientists must respond to. The real question is what science can do for the people who voted for him.

    February 23, 2017
    General
    Nature
  • Vaccine opponents... have found fresh energy in the election of a president who has repeated discredited claims linking childhood immunizations to autism and has apparently decided to pursue them. With President Trump’s support, this fringe movement could win official recognition... The good news is that members of Congress [from both parties] are pushing back.

    February 23, 2017
    New York Times
  • A study of PrEP users presented at CROI 2017, showed that PrEP users had rates of STI diagnosis on the order of 20 times higher than among HIV-negative gay men in the general population.... And the percentage of men reporting never using condoms for anal sex somewhat increased while they were on PrEP... The problem in proving that PrEP has any causal relationship to STIs is that STIs among gay men were, in general, rising well before PrEP, and also that PrEP usually involves regular testing for HIV and STIs.

    February 22, 2017
    aidsmap
  • The causes of this epidemic are multifactorial. One primary contributor relates to infrastructure: “The number of dedicated sexually transmitted disease clinics in the nation is decreasing, and patients don’t have other access [to care],” Edward Hook III, University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Infectious Disease News....Compounding the problem of STDs [are] dating apps;...pre-exposure prophylaxis,...[which] may give people a false sense of security;...and “the shroud of stigma, shame and anxiety,” affecting providers and patients alike.

    February 22, 2017
    General
    Infectious Disease News
  • The battle to save the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is already well under way, just one month after President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration and his almost immediate reinstatement of the country's global gag order on foreign funding for comprehensive sexual health services.

    February 22, 2017
    General
    POZ
  • Despite a high level of interest in PrEP among young black men who have sex with men [YBMSM], researchers reported that PrEP uptake was “suboptimal” in this population....Charlotte-Paige Rolle, Emory University, said at CROI: “In our sample, PrEP uptake was suboptimal, despite amelioration of important structural barriers,...and there does seem to be some sort of critical barrier between PrEP interest and uptake....Additional research is needed to fully understand these and other factors that mediate PrEP uptake and adherence among YBMSM."

    February 21, 2017
    Healio
  • New York City’s strategy to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic is firmly rooted in science, developed in conjunction with community activists, and has support from top-level political leaders, Demetre Daskalakis told a plenary audience last week in Seattle....Daskalakis...is deputy commissioner for disease control in the New York City Department of Health and architect of the city’s "ending the epidemic" initiative.

    February 21, 2017
    General
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • In a late-breaker presentation at CROI, Graeme Meintjes, University of Cape Town, said that in patients at high risk of TB-IRIS [tuberculosis-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome], use of prednisone during the first 4 weeks of ART reduced the risk of TB-IRIS by 30% and further reduced the requirement for corticosteroids to treat TB-IRIS by 53%.

    February 20, 2017
    General
    MedPage Today
  • Ever since there was an outbreak of HIV among white, largely rural heroin users in Indiana in 2015, there have been concerns that the conditions exist in some parts of the US for more outbreaks among heterosexual people who inject drugs. Several presentations at CROI 2017 found that, while there is little evidence yet for a crossover of HIV from men who have sex with men who inject drugs into heterosexuals, the conditions do exist for it to happen.

    February 20, 2017
    General
    aidsmap
  • A so-called "HIV Conserv" vaccine has, for the first time, produced significant prolonged viral control in a large minority of recipients once they were taken off ART, according to a report last week at...CROI [by] Beatriz Mothe from IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute....Although a number of vaccine studies in monkeys have produced long-term viral suppression, this is the first human study to produce such an effect....The BCN02 vaccine trial is ongoing.

    February 20, 2017
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • The United States warned the government against its decision to ban HIV/AIDS services at 40 health facilities and to introduce new guidelines for Key Populations, saying the move could cause a flare-up of the epidemic among those afflicted. The US embassy in Dar es Salaam said the decision could impact HIV/AIDS programs funded by the American government, and impede progress made over the years in addressing the epidemic in Tanzania.

    February 19, 2017
    General
    The Citizen
  • A six-month course of tuberculosis prophylaxis in people with HIV sharply reduced all-cause mortality, a researcher said at CROI 2017. In a three-year follow-up to a randomized trial, six months of isoniazid reduced the risk of death by 39%, according to Anani Badje, University of Bordeaux. While the approach has been recommended for many years, largely on the basis of studies showing it prevented TB, this is the first analysis to show a reduction in mortality.

    February 17, 2017
    General
    MedPage Today
  • This year’s Letter [from Bill and Melinda Gates] is particularly powerful—and, truth be told, disconcerting,... because the world [they] describe seems completely at odds with the attitudes, priorities, and policies of Donald Trump....For...leaders of every stripe who want to build successful organizations and make a positive impact, it has to mean something when the two richest people on earth and the most powerful politician on earth see the world, its problems, and the best ways to solve them, in completely different ways.

    February 17, 2017
    General
    Forbes
  • Tanzania's government has stopped 40 privately run health centers from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals in a country where gay sex is criminalized. It is the latest move by this East African country to crack down on the activities of homosexuals. The government believes that non-governmental organizations are using some health centers to promote gay sex, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said Thursday while announcing the restrictions.

    February 17, 2017
    General
    VOA
  • Women who used oral PrEP when engaging in sex with HIV-infected partners were similarly protected against acquiring the disease whether they had normal or abnormal vaginal microbiota, according to data from Kenya and Uganda,...said Renee Heffron, University of Washington,...at CROI....Heffron and Sharon Hillier, University of Pittsburgh, discussed studies related to vaginal microbiota and how it might mediate tenofovir gels used in studies to prevent HIV transmission.

    February 16, 2017
    MedPage Today
  • Men who have sex with men in a study of a non-daily dosing protocol of Truvada as PrEP had a lower rate of sexually transmitted infections when provided antibiotics to take following condomless intercourse. More research is needed to determine long-term efficacy of such a post-exposure prophylaxis... as well as possible...development of antibiotic resistance.

    February 16, 2017
    POZ

Published Research

  • In this predominantly Catholic country, perceptions of HIV and attitudes towards people with HIV appear to be commonly shaped by religious beliefs. In families and communities, participants encountered gossip, social exclusion and threats of violence; in health settings, [they] experienced discrimination from health providers...failing to maintain confidentiality and inappropriate treatment. The impact of stigma was profoundly negative and influenced participants’ decision to disclose their status to others.

    February 22, 2017
    General
    Culture, Health & Sexuality
  • The ever-growing HIV treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa present local policy makers with complex decision dilemmas, as international guidelines emphasize the need for expanded access to ART, yet funding has flatlined. We argue that the current evidence base for prioritizing ART scale-up strategies results in recommendations that are theoretically optimal but practically infeasible to implement,... [and] provide suggestions for... integrating supply- and demand-side constraints in mathematical models and improving dialogue between researchers and policy makers.

    February 21, 2017
    PLoS Med
  • In the context of a declining epidemic overall but with a large sub-epidemic in MSM and male sex workers [MSW}, an optimal prevention portfolio for Nairobi should focus on condom promotion for MSW and MSM in particular, followed by improved ART retention, earlier ART, and male circumcision as the budget allows. PrEP for MSW could enter an optimal portfolio at similar levels of spending to when earlier antiretroviral therapy is included; however, PrEP for MSM and female sex workers would be included only at much higher budgets.

    February 20, 2017
    Lancet HIV
  • Takata et al. examined a large cohort of HIV patients given ART. They evaluated T cell activation and HIV viral load over time....[A]ctivated CD8+ T cells present after ART initiation reduced the viral reservoir. Thus, targeting CD8+ T cells early in infection could lead to viral eradication.

    February 17, 2017
    Science

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