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25 February 2016 VOLUME 17 ISSUE 8

Media Coverage

  • The new ring is far from fail-safe, but it did reduce HIV infection by 27 percent in one study and 31 percent in the other... Research now moves to a ring that would be effective for three months and to one that would also release contraceptive drugs - a potential incentive to get young women to use the device consistently. That research cannot proceed fast enough.

    February 26, 2016
    NY Times
  • Young black men who have sex with other men – historically a difficult group to engage in HIV treatment and prevention programs – accept and use pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to avoid becoming infected with the virus, researchers reported here.

    February 25, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Researchers have for the first time documented a case of an individual contracting a multi-drug resistant strain of HIV, while apparently adhering well to the daily regimen of Truvada as PrEP. The scientists concluded that it is indeed possible for individuals who are adherent to PrEP to contract HIV when exposed to a virus resistant to both drugs included in Truvada. While this case is concerning, experts suggest that such failures will likely remain rare.

    February 25, 2016
    POZ
  • Finally, after more than 30 years of the epidemic, there is a prevention tool other than condoms. But the effort to turn PrEP’s promise into a reality is providing insight that is valuable beyond HIV. The long, failing attempt to crack the riddle of black gay men’s higher HIV rate is a cautionary tale for any public-health system operating in a world with endemic inequity....Providing PrEP in a vacuum isn’t enough.

    February 25, 2016
    Nation
  • A programme of home visits, partner education and HIV testing for couples in Kenya was able to double the proportion of men who tested during their partner’s pregnancy, Carey Farquhar of the University of Washington told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston yesterday. Partners became aware of each other’s HIV status without this being linked to an increase in intimate partner violence.

    February 25, 2016
    aidsmap
  • Botswana is already close to achieving the 90-90-90 targets for testing, treatment and viral suppression, data presented to CROI show....Achievement of these targets would mean that almost three-quarters of all people with HIV would have an undetectable viral load – enough to significantly reduce the rate of new infections. Botswana has led the way in providing access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa.

    February 25, 2016
    aidsmap
  • Over a 16-year period, life expectancy of HIV patients with good access to medical care rose "dramatically." In 1996, a 20-year-old patient with HIV...could expect an additional 19 years of life, according to Julia Marcus, Kaiser Permanente Research in Oakland, CA, and colleagues. By end 2011 that had risen to 53 years. But despite that improvement, HIV-positive people still lived almost 14 years fewer on average than those without the virus, although some subgroups of patients did better.

    February 25, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) heard results yesterday from the first phase 2 (safety, acceptability and dose-finding) study of a long-lasting, injectable formulation of the integrase-inhibitor drug cabotegravir for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in HIV-negative people.

    February 25, 2016
    aidsmap
  • New PrEP options presented at CROI 2016 - Injectable long-acting cabotegravir: ÉCLAIR, Maraviroc: HPTN 069 / ACTG A5305, Rectal Tenofovir Gel: MTN-017, Tenofovir Alafenamide (TAF) protects macaque from rectal infection.

    February 25, 2016
    BETA
  • Black gay and bisexual men enrolled in a program that helps them overcome personal barriers to treatment are likely to keep taking a daily anti-HIV pill, according to new research.

    February 25, 2016
    Reuters
  • A reduced glycerin formulation of tenofovir gel was found safe when used daily and around the time of sex, according to the first extended safety study of a rectal microbicide for HIV prevention from anal sex. Presented today at [CROI], the MTN-017 study, led by the NIH-funded Microbicide Trials Network, also indicated that participants were as likely to follow through using the gel with sex as they were to using daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis.

    February 24, 2016
    Medical Xpress
  • PopART, also known as HPTN 071, is a large community-randomised trial being carried out in Zambia and Kwazulu Natal, South Africa [and is] an important test of the feasibility of offering testing and treatment at a very large scale. Evidence from the pilot phase suggests that although progress is a little slower than expected, it is possible to achieve high levels of testing and treatment initiation – the first two 90s – in sub-Saharan Africa.

    February 24, 2016
    aidsmap
  • For years, the fixed-dose single-pill combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and emtricitabine (FTC) -- sold as Truvada -- has been a favored backbone for many three-drug anti-HIV regimens, noted Joel Gallant, MD, of the Southwest Care Center in Santa Fe, NM. But a new prodrug of TDF -- tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF -- appears to have similar efficacy with fewer side effects, Gallant reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).

    February 24, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • A new modeling study [presented at CROI] showed that reaching the National HIV/AIDS Strategy targets for HIV testing and treatment and expanding the delivery of pre-exposure prophylaxis to high-risk groups would prevent approximately 185,000 new HIV infections in the United States by 2020. This translates to a 70% reduction in HIV transmission in the country.

    February 24, 2016
    Healio
  • ViiV Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson are pressing into late-stage development with a combination HIV treatment that can be dosed every 8 weeks, building on clinical results in which their cocktail measured up to daily pills....The results, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections this week, have convinced ViiV to map out a Phase III effort, and the company said it expects to start late-stage studies later this year.

    February 24, 2016
    FierceBiotech
  • Researchers presented data on mother-to-child transmission in Malawi, showing how dramatic progress has been made within the context of constrained resources in one of the poorest countries in the world....The transmission rate of 1.4% in those beginning ART before pregnancy (just under half of the sample) compares favourably to that seen in developed countries....Further follow-up....will identify whether transmission during breastfeeding is prevented and whether women are retained in care over the long term.

    February 24, 2016
    aidsmap
  • In the fight against HIV, women have been severely limited in what they can do to protect themselves against the virus and it typically involves asking an infected partner to wear a condom....There's finally hope that a convenient and inexpensive option that puts more power in women's hands may be available in the not-so-distant future. Scientists reported this week that two large-scale studies in Africa have shown that a flexible vaginal ring that women can insert themselves may be able to provide limited protection against the virus.

    February 24, 2016
    Washington Post
  • Among people with HIV who are under treatment, the proportion of those whose virus is suppressed [rose]....from 2009 through 2013 regardless of age, sex, race and ethnicity, or sexual preference,...Heather Bradley of the CDC told reporters at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections....Viral suppression is important...because controlling HIV offers individual health benefits as well as population-level advantages, including reduced risk of transmission.

    February 24, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Based on an estimate of lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis, half of all US black men who have sex with men [MSM] will contract infection. Latino MSM also face a relatively high...risk (one in four), according to Kristen Hess of the CDC. Lifetime risk for white MSM is one in 11, her group reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections....Risk of HIV infection is one in 48 among African-American women compared with one in 880 for white women.

    February 24, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • The first findings from ["Safe Generations", an implementation science] study in the Kingdom of Swaziland on a new approach to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV were presented at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. These results show that implementation of Option B+ greatly increased the number of women initiating ART and dramatically improved ART coverage among pregnant women.

    February 23, 2016
    Science Daily
  • A single dose of the drug zoledronic acid was found to inhibit the bone loss that is common in HIV-infected patients is increased during the first two years of treatment with ART, [and] also leads to a higher rate of fracture. Results of the Phase II clinical trial were presented Feb. 23 at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.

    February 23, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Our research [in rural Malawi] found that the way HIV testing and treatment is offered makes a big difference for men’s use of care. Unlike women, men are not targeted by HIV policies to ensure they are tested and treated. As a result, heterosexual men have become a marginalised group when it comes to HIV services. They are systematically disadvantaged in their access to care.

    February 23, 2016
    The Conversation
  • New research out Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control shows the nation losing ground in the fight against HIV/AID in minority communities....Some North Texans working to prevent new infections–and support those living with the disease–say the arrival of anti-viral medications helped ease the panic of a generation ago: but, now in many cases apathy has replaced panic.

    February 23, 2016
    CBS Local
  • Bone mineral density recovers within 6 months after stopping pre-exposure prophylaxis containing tenofovir, Robert Grant, University of California at San Francisco, reported on behalf of the iPrEx study....The study compared changes in bone mineral density between placebo group and study participants....When recovery was analyzed by age as well as by drug concentration, people under age 25 demonstrated faster recovery in bone mineral density than those aged 25 and over, recovering to baseline levels in both spine and hip by 6 months after the time they had stopped PrEP.

    February 23, 2016
    HIV&Hepatitis
  • A program to accelerate HIV diagnosis, preparation, and starting antiretroviral therapy in South Africa led to a higher proportion of people initiating treatment and better health outcomes, according to results from the RapIT trial....The RapIT protocol condenses the steps of the testing, counseling and medication dispensing process, making it faster and easier for people to start ART...and to have all steps completed during a single clinic visit, ideally on the same day a person tests HIV-positive.

    February 23, 2016
    HIV&Hepatitis
  • A new tool for women to protect themselves against HIV is a step closer, with the announcement Monday that a vaginal ring containing the antiretroviral drug dapivirine is safe and reduces the risk of infection by up to 56%....The announcement is significant not only because these are the first studies to demonstrate a vaginal ring can effectively deliver a sustained release antiretroviral to reduce the risk of HIV infection, but also because it is the first time two separate microbicide trials have confirmed the efficacy of a product.

    February 23, 2016
    Business Daily
  • A combination of two long-acting injectable antiretrovirals, cabotegravir and rilpivirine, given once every 4 or 8 weeks, maintained viral suppression as well as a standard oral antiretroviral therapy regimen and appeared safe and well-tolerated, according to results from the LATTE 2 trial presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections this week in Boston, USA.

    February 23, 2016
    aidsmap
  • After more than 20 years of holding HIV/AIDS research funding at a fixed 10% of its overall budget, the NIH will let that level slip this year....Because NIH’s budget rose nearly 7% last year, and NIH is requesting another bump next year, the portion going to AIDS will fall from 10% in 2015 to 9.3% this year and could drop to 9% in 2017.

    February 23, 2016
    Science
  • For the first time, the Health Ministry has approved a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program to prevent HIV transmission, making Israel one of the first countries outside the US to use it....The drugs will be handed out at the various AIDS centers in hospitals and clinics that serve homosexuals, as well in health fund clinics. The ministry will soon decide whether to give the drug “cocktails” also to those who inject hard drugs and women at high risk.

    February 23, 2016
    Jerusalem Post
  • If current HIV diagnoses rates persist, about 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men (MSM) and 1 in 4 Latino MSM in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime, according to a new analysis by CDC researchers. The study, presented today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, provides the first-ever comprehensive national estimates of the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis for several key populations at risk and in every state.

    February 23, 2016
    CDC NCHHSTP
  • Within 6 years of human papillomavirus vaccine introduction, there was a dramatic decline among teen-age girls and young women in the four types of HPV in the 4-valent HPV vaccine (4vHPV). Among females ages 14-19, 4vHPV-type prevalence was down 64%, and declined 34% among women ages 20-24, compared to comparable data from the "pre-vaccine era."... However, no statistically significant differences were observed among women ages 25-29 and ages 30-34 from the pre-vaccine era to the "vaccine era" (2009-2012).

    February 23, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • NGOs are warning that HIV infections are on the rise in eastern Ukraine, where nearly two years of conflict...has hit prevention and treatment efforts. “More babies [are] born that are HIV-positive and more people are dying from HIV [related illnesses] compared to before,” said Oleg Pronin of the Luhansk regional branch of the Ukrainian NGO, People Living With HIV....Even before the conflict, Ukraine had one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Europe.

    February 23, 2016
    IRIN
  • A flexible and inexpensive ring inserted into the vagina, where it slowly releases an antiviral drug, helped protect African women against contracting HIV from their sexual partners, researchers said Monday in reports on two major studies that included more than 4,500 women. The protection was not complete [but] researchers said the device was still a major advance and that...they would press ahead to get the ring approved and widely distributed as quickly as possible.

    February 23, 2016
    NY Times
  • About half of gay and bisexual black men will be diagnosed with the AIDS virus in their lifetime, according to new government estimates.

    February 23, 2016
    ABC News
  • Researchers have succeeded in developing a designer recombinase (Brec1) that is capable of specifically removing the provirus from infected cells of most primary HIV-1 isolates....Importantly, the antiviral effects were accomplished without measurable cytotoxic or genotoxic side effects. Based on these findings, Brec1 represents a promising candidate for possible applications in improved HIV therapies.

    February 22, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Whatever it was, 2015 was a stellar year for HIV breakthroughs, even when measured against previous years.

    February 22, 2016
    Ground Up
  • Now that the trial has been completed, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — the US institute that funded the trial — plans to convene experts in March to decide the future of dapivirine ring research. Depending on the outcome, two other government-funded trials could take place. Those would involve providing the ring to former participants of today’s study and trying to better understand the HIV prevention needs and desires of adolescent girls and young women.

    February 22, 2016
    The Verge
  • For some time scientists and advocates have recognized the importance of celebrity in public health. Could Sheen's disclosure, albeit tragic, generate renewed national attention for HIV and HIV prevention, providing an important public health benefit? A new study finds that Charlie Sheen's HIV disclosure corresponded with record levels of public engagement with HIV and HIV prevention.

    February 22, 2016
    Science Daily
  • Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that HIV infection of human immune cells triggers a massive increase in methylation, a chemical modification to both human and viral RNA, aiding replication of the virus. The study, published February 22 in Nature Microbiology, identifies a new mechanism for controlling HIV replication and its interaction with the host immune system.

    February 22, 2016
    Science Daily
  • The antiretroviral drug atazanavir--sometimes included in treatments to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy--may have small but significant effects on infant development, reports a study in the journal AIDS....Further studies are needed to assess whether the differences persist beyond one year of age. Other questions include the mechanism by which the apparent developmental effects of atazanavir occur, and whether they could be related to another drug, tenofovir, typically used together with atazanavir.

    February 22, 2016
    Science Daily
  • When a field is besieged by failures, small steps forward seem great triumphs. That’s the case with the latest effort to protect women at high risk of being infected with HIV. Two large trials of a vaginal ring that secretes an antiretroviral drug into the vagina found it reduced infections by about 30%....“It’s a bold step in the right direction, and gives the field something to build on,” says Robin Shattock, Imperial College London.

    February 22, 2016
    Science
  • Why were the results of these studies relatively disappointing? Firstly, the ring technology probably does not have the same intrinsic efficacy as oral PrEP....Secondly,...what women might like in a vaginal ring was not necessarily on offer from these particular ones....Whether these are the reasons...for the relatively low levels of adherence and lack of effect in young women remains to be seen, [as is] whether these results or from an open-label trial will be enough for the ring to be licensed.

    February 22, 2016
    aidsmap
  • Two groups of scientists presented results at an HIV conference on Monday suggesting that a vaginal ring could prevent HIV transmission in women....“A prevention tool like a ring could be used discreetly, a woman would have control over it, and it could allow her to keep herself safe from HIV without having to ask a male partner to take on prevention strategies,” lead author Jared Baeten said. “That individual control of prevention is so powerful.”

    February 22, 2016
    BuzzFeed
  • ViiV Healthcare has completed its acquisition of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s portfolio of HIV research and development assets, having secured antitrust clearance from authorities in the US. Under the two separate transactions, ViiV has snapped up BMS’ late-stage HIV R&D...as well as its preclinical and discovery-stage HIV research business.

    February 22, 2016
    PharmaTimes
  • Researchers who studied a large cluster of new HIV infections in Cambodia...have recommended that national prevention strategies be expanded to monitor the risk for HIV transmission via unsafe injections....Preliminary results [showed] that cases were nearly five times as likely as controls to have received an IV or intramuscular injection, and four times as likely to have received an IV infusion during the previous 6 months.

    February 22, 2016
    Healio
  • The results of two studies announced today at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections...show that vaginal rings impregnated with an anti-HIV drug are effective at cutting the HIV infection rate in women. However, the...rings had no effect at all in the youngest trial participants, aged 18-21....The results could be caused by a combination of intrinsic efficacy of less than 100% in the rings, intermittent use, and greater vulnerability to HIV infection among young women.

    February 22, 2016
    aidsmap
  • It would seem that we have the tools we need to end the epidemic. Yet more than 1.5 million people around the globe become infected with HIV each year and another one million die of AIDS....We are going to learn more about two emerging tools to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic: prevention medicines that are easy to use and protect those who are HIV negative from infection, and advances in vaccine research.

    February 20, 2016
    Boston Globe
  • With Russia’s HIV infection rate continuing to spiral, activists say the state can no longer drag its heels over improved treatment and prevention measures. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the federal Aids centre, told journalists that more than 27,500 Russians with HIV died in 2015, a 13% increase on 2014,...with about 95,000 new cases in 2015 compared with 90,000 in 2014, most from drug use and heterosexual sex....In January, Russia reached a sad milestone when a 26-year-old woman...became the millionth person officially diagnosed with HIV.

    February 19, 2016
    Guardian
  • Only 7% of clinicians recommended to patients that the HPV and hepatitis B vaccines specifically can reduce cancer, according to a recent survey. “The majority of physicians and other health care providers surveyed reported that discussing cancer prevention with their patients is an effective compliance strategy for HPV and hepatitis B vaccination, yet few are acting on that knowledge,” [said] Carolyn Aldigé, president of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

    February 19, 2016
    Healio
  • Opinion Makers is an exclusive MedPage Today video series, presenting leaders from all areas of medicine, offering their views on current topics in clinical care, research, and policy.

    February 19, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Pope Francis said the use of contraception can be acceptable in regions hit by the Zika virus, a stance that could reignite a debate over the church’s prohibition on using condoms to stop the spread of the AIDS virus.

    February 18, 2016
    Wall Street Journal
  • To find out if women who could benefit from PrEP know about it, how they’re talking about it, and how likely they’d be to take it under what circumstances, Judy Auerbach and colleagues conducted focus groups in six different US cities....While 58% of the participants had ever been tested for HIV, “almost none” had ever heard of PrEP....Many...reported they would consider taking PrEP [if] covered by health insurance, works...to prevent infection, and does not cause significant side effects.

    February 15, 2016
    BETA Blog
  • There's been a male tilt to biomedical research for a long time. The National Institutes of Health is trying to change that and is looking to bring gender balance all the way down to the earliest stages of research. As a condition of NIH funding, researchers will now have to include female and male animals in their biomedical studies.

    February 15, 2016
    NPR

Published Research

Announcements

  • The DREAMS Innovation Challenge seeks to award and implement solutions to reduce HIV infections by infusing new thinking and approaches to meet the urgent, complex needs of adolescent girls and young women in DREAMS countries. Partners include PEPFAR, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare. Expression of Interest deadline: March 28, 2016. For information, go to: https://www.dreamschallenge.org/

    February 23, 2016