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4 December 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 49

Media Coverage

  • Over ten million men from East and Southern Africa have undergone voluntary circumcision since 2008, World Health Organisation regional director for communicable diseases, Dr. Magda Robalo has said.

    December 4, 2015
    The Herald
  • The burden of cervical cancer is increasing and the need for concerted efforts is warranted now more than ever. We highlight the burden in Malawi and call for more efforts in cervical cancer screening and other control interventions.

    December 4, 2015
    The Nation
  • [HIV] drugs often do not reach clinics because of "cumbersome procedures, logistical challenges or lack of resources," Médecins Sans Frontières said in a report released at the International Conference on AIDS and STI in Africa in Harare. Nationwide surveys in South Africa showed that between 20 and 25 percent of local health centres were unable to dispense the complete amount of one or more HIV or TB medication. In 80 percent of cases, the drugs were available in the country but did not reach the clinics.

    December 3, 2015
    AFP
  • Antiretroviral therapies have enabled people with HIV and AIDS to live longer lives,...yet concerns remain.... University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researchers [have] found that commonly used antiretroviral medications disrupted the function of oligodendrocytes, crucial brain cells that manufacture myelin, fatty material that serves to insulate neurons, helping them transmit signals in the brain fast and efficiently. This disruption may...point to a need for rethinking how HIV drugs are designed and prescribed, particularly for children on ART.

    December 3, 2015
    Science Daily
  • As China prepares to observe World AIDS Day on Tuesday, health officials and researchers are raising alarms over an increase in new infections among high school and college students....Before 2009, most reported HIV infections in China were caused by intravenous drug use, blood transfusions, mother-to-child transmission and an “unknown” factor as high as 17.5 percent....But now sexual transmission accounts for more than 92 percent of all new infections, more in line with international norms.

    December 3, 2015
    New York Times
  • International health agencies continue to lose ground in the struggle against HIV....It is imperative to move aggressively to change the trajectory of this epidemic....Some experts are rightly skeptical that current measures will be enough to end the global epidemic. They think funding should focus on a vaccine to prevent infection and a cure to eliminate the virus from those already infected. Both are formidable challenges....However long it takes, research is needed to provide lasting success.

    December 2, 2015
    New York Times
  • Researchers have published in the NEJM their findings from the IPERGAY trial of an intermittent dosing schedule of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among MSM....The investigators caution that PrEP’s effectiveness in this trial may have been exaggerated by the fact that the placebo arm was discontinued early...and that the IPERGAY findings may not apply to individuals who follow the study’s PrEP dosing protocol and take fewer than 15 pills per month.

    December 2, 2015
    POZ
  • Prudential Insurance has become the first major American insurer to allow HIV-positive people to buy traditional life insurance policies. The landmark move, which Prudential chief underwriting officer Mike McFarland announced on World AIDS Day, reflects an important change in the perception of HIV and AIDS in America.

    December 2, 2015
    Huffington Post
  • "People should just be able to get tested for HIV the same way they get tested for diabetes or high blood pressure. We are wasting a lot of resources through awareness campaigns and other specialised services instead of just integrating HIV testing and counselling into the normal health delivery system," [said] St Albert's Mission Hospital medical officer, Dr Julia Musariri....[She added that] if HIV testing remains optional, the United Nations dream...for 2020, will never be realised.

    December 1, 2015
    The Herald
  • This article looks at the HIV pandemic through a series of 9 maps and charts that illustrate the trajectory of the epidemic and the response.

    December 1, 2015
    Vox
  • For many years, clinicians debated the best time to start antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection, with some worrying that the risks of treatment in terms of drug toxicities could outweigh the benefits of controlling the virus. In a new commentary, scientists argue that the results of three large clinical trials definitively prove that the benefits of starting ART early in infection outweigh any theoretical risk.

    December 1, 2015
    Science Daily
  • Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are hoping that their latest discovery may help in the fight against HIV infection. Biochemist and virologist Linda Chelico and her team from the U of S College of Medicine are learning more about how an ancient "error correction" system in the human genome helps protect the body against HIV.

    December 1, 2015
    Science Daily
  • While the rate of HIV infection is on a global decline as World AIDS Day is marked Tuesday, the number of new infections in Russia continues to rise....In 2009, Russia was supposed to take over the work of one of the major HIV prevention and treatment donors, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria, which operates exclusively in low-income countries and no longer considers Russia eligible based on this criterion.

    December 1, 2015
    AP
  • The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which led the fight against AIDS denial in South Africa and forced the government to create the world’s largest treatment programme, has been hit hard as donor countries have scaled back on grants to NGOs involved in HIV and AIDS programmes. Even after making significant staffing cuts, it has yet to raise the £1.6m...it says it needs to meet its running costs for the next financial year.

    December 1, 2015
    Guardian
  • India's globally-lauded AIDS program has been in disarray since last year due to payment delays that worsened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi slashed the federal budget in February by a fifth and asked states to pitch in....Health Minister J.P.Nadda said Modi had decided the expenses incurred in running the nationwide program will be borne by New Delhi, effectively restoring the earlier funding arrangement.

    December 1, 2015
    Reuters
  • The world has made strides to reverse the [HIV/AIDS] pandemic, but experts warn of a multibillion-dollar annual funding gap....Erin Hohlfelder, director of global health policy at ONE, warned of a critical "five-year window" in which efforts must be scaled up...or otherwise risk a loss in gains and a rise in new infections....Forty-six Sub-Saharan African leaders have committed to spending 15 percent of their budgets on health, but only six are doing so, according to the 2015 ONE AIDS Report.

    December 1, 2015
    VOA
  • The world committed to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 with goals adopted this year by the United Nations. But is that realistic, or even possible? There are a lot of reasons for optimism on this World AIDS Day....The bad news is that despite the progress, less than half of those infected with HIV are even getting treatment....The question is whether the practical, political, and financial barriers can be overcome.

    December 1, 2015
    Bloomberg
  • After a decidedly slow start, the use of Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV is on a roll among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States.

    December 1, 2015
    POZ
  • Kenyan Professor Elizabeth Bukusi has received the 2015 Biomedical HIV Prevention Forum Distinguished Scholar Award for making significant contributions to the science and development of biomedical HIV interventions in Africa.

    December 1, 2015
    Key Correspondents
  • I noticed the vibrancy of my neighborhood starting to fade, with pain and fear creeping in. Fear of a disease — for which we didn’t have a name and knew little about — was steadily growing. We soon discovered that disease was AIDS.... I felt compelled to join the search for an HIV treatment, haunted by the faces of people around me suffering without options.

    December 1, 2015
    Medium.com
  • Despite major medical advances and more than 30 years of effort, the United States is still in danger of losing the war on AIDS, according to the country’s top disease-control official.

    December 1, 2015
    New York Times
  • The long-awaited trial that plans to answer whether a contraceptive injection increases a woman's risk of contracting HIV is set to begin this month.

    December 1, 2015
    Times of South Africa
  • One thing is clear: Sexually active women around the world, and especially in countries with high rates of HIV and pregnancy-related deaths, need more and better options to protect themselves against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, some of the most promising new technologies to achieve that goal, known as multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs), are vastly underfunded.

    December 1, 2015
    The Hill
  • And yet, when I bring up PrEP with a female friend, more often than not, she’s never heard of it. Considering what a tremendous impact this drug has had on the gay community (and the fact that my female friends are among the smartest people I know), I started asking myself, Why aren’t more women talking about PrEP?

    December 1, 2015
    Refinery29
  • "People should just be able to get tested for HIV the same way they get tested for diabetes or high blood pressure. We are wasting a lot of resources through awareness campaigns and other specialised services instead of just integrating HIV testing and counselling into the normal health delivery system," were the words of St Albert's Mission Hospital medical officer, Dr Julia Musariri.

    December 1, 2015
    The Herald
  • Here we look at five key celebs whose diagnoses changed the face of HIV and AIDS.

    December 1, 2015
    NY Post
  • There are so many times that conventional wisdom failed people with HIV or AIDS.

    December 1, 2015
    Huffington Post
  • The number of adolescent deaths from AIDS has tripled in the past 15 years despite efforts to curb infections, with the majority of cases reported in sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations Children's Fund announced Friday. The UNICEF study found that 26 adolescents are infected every hour, and only one in 10 adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa is tested for HIV....Many adolescents who die of AIDS-related illnesses were infected with HIV as infants.

    November 30, 2015
    CNN
  • Myanmar has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Asia. Under reforms by a semi-civilian government since 2011, access to medication has improved compared to a few years ago when cash-strapped clinics had to turn patients away....Yet...ignorance and fear surrounding the HIV virus...are among the many challenges that will face Myanmar's new government in overhauling a neglected health system and changing attitudes fed by misinformation and a conservative culture.

    November 30, 2015
    Reuters
  • In Homa Bay, a remote rural region on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, studies show that one in four people are HIV-positive. Every day, a team from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) heads out on foot to the most isolated areas, going door-to-door to discuss, persuade and ultimately convince people to get tested....In light of the alarming statistics, MSF changed its approach and started reaching out to people rather than waiting for them to come for help.

    November 30, 2015
    AFP
  • United Nations research has...uncovered a surge of HIV infections among 10-19 years olds in the Asia-Pacific region, where more than half of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents live. The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded the options for spontaneous casual sex as never before, [the] epidemic fastest growing amongst men who have sex with men,...those sexually exploited by or engaged in sex work, people who inject drugs, and young transgender people.

    November 30, 2015
    Guardian
  • It’s well established that gold- standard HIV vaccine trials can be conducted in Africa, yet the leadership of the research is rarely African. USAID aims to shift this dynamic by encouraging African scientists to play active and equal roles. This means initiating research that reflects African realities and considers key regional priorities.

    November 30, 2015
    USAID
  • South Africa has made incredible strides providing anti-retroviral treatment to millions of people since 2004. HIV has been transformed from a grim and inexorable death to a chronic disease controlled with a cheap, safe tablet-a-day, rendering a person with HIV healthy and non-infectious.

    November 30, 2015
    The Conversation
  • Today, on the eve of World AIDS Day, UCSF is scheduled to announce that it’s receiving a $20 million grant to find a cure for AIDS over the next five years. It’s part of a $100 million effort by the American Foundation for AIDS Research or amfAR, to fund the most promising research that could lead to curing AIDS.

    November 30, 2015
    KQED Science
  • Government has reportedly clamped down on foreign gays and lesbians attending the International Conference on Aids and STI’s in Africa (ICASA) in Harare and seized their workshop material at Harare International Airport, NewsDay has learnt.

    November 30, 2015
    NewsDay
  • Prescriptions for Truvada, a drug that protects against HIV. infection, more than tripled since summer 2014 among people enrolled in Medicaid in New York State, [and] transmission of HIV infections from mother to child dropped to zero...for the first time since the epidemic began. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will highlight both statistics in a speech...as part of World AIDS Day....To be announced Tuesday is a $2.5 million pilot program with five Medicaid managed-care plans to help bring 6,000 HIV-positive patients into care, another to make life insurance available to people between 30 and 60 living with HIV.

    November 29, 2015
    New York Times
  • In the long-term, the use of anti-retrovirals to control the HIV epidemic is unrealistic. Our best hope for an AIDS-free future is the development of a vaccine. Two major clinical trials are set to begin in South Africa in 2016. Both seek to test whether antibodies, which circulate in blood and are part of our natural defence to infection, can prevent new HIV infections.

    November 29, 2015
    The Conversation
  • Government has confiscated conference material belonging to organisations attending the 2015 International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) which started on Sunday in Harare.

    November 29, 2015
    New Zimbabwe
  • The Obama administration said Saturday it was allotting an additional $300m...to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice said the sum would help the main US programme for fighting AIDS in Africa meet goals including providing antiretroviral treatment to 12.9 million people by end 2017.

    November 27, 2015
    Wochit
  • Child marriages in Africa are set to more than double by 2050 unless urgent steps are taken, UNICEF warned Thursday as delegates met in Zambia to discuss how to halt the practice....Searing poverty has been one of the driving forces behind early marriages, while traditional customs also play a significant role. Girls married early face a greater risk of domestic violence, contracting HIV and are likely to die or face complications while giving birth, according to the global coalition Girls Not Brides.

    November 26, 2015
    AFP
  • Even though taking a daily pill can protect almost completely against getting HIV., a third of primary care doctors and nurses in the United States have never heard of it, federal health officials said this week. Taking Truvada daily gives better than 90 percent protection to men at risk of getting HIV from gay sex, and better than 70 percent protection to drug injectors at risk of getting it from sharing syringes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    November 26, 2015
    New York Times
  • About one of every four people in Homa Bay [Kenya] is infected with HIV. The government has created public awareness programs and provides condoms. HIV drugs are available for free at the local hospital, and health workers go door-to-door encouraging people to get tested. Yet the Catholic Church...has taken a fundamental stance against any use of contraception. The acting head of St. Peter’s Catholic Church [in Homa Bay] believes that condoms are actually causing the spread of HIV.

    November 25, 2015
    Slate
  • HIV has, for the last three decades, defined the landscape of ambitious, collaborative and innovative responses that marry science, rights, community-based responses and structural change. Ultimately, these responses can be leveraged to improve health everywhere, but only if we continue to make real progress in battling HIV.

    November 25, 2015
    Huffington Post
  • Cancer researchers say there has been a substantial increase in women under age 26 who have received a diagnosis of early-stage cervical cancer, a pattern that they say is most likely an effect of the Affordable Care Act....The study, published in JAMA,...the size of the database, and the fact that the share of young women with health insurance had increased so substantially, led researchers to conclude that the law was having an effect.

    November 24, 2015
    New York Times

Published Research

  • Sceptical is an understatement for Jim Riley's first thoughts when, ten years ago, he learned that scientists at Sangamo BioSciences wanted to use genome-editing technologies to treat patients with HIV....What the Sangamo researchers were planning was remarkable indeed. Their goal was not merely to control the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, but to directly modify the genes of adults who were HIV positive to eliminate their susceptibility to the virus.

    December 3, 2015
    Nature
  • But the science alone will not be enough to build public and political confidence, says Heidi Larson. Every year brings 528,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 266,000 deaths, linked to human papillomavirus (HPV). We have a highly effective HPV vaccine, but suspicion stands in the way of its adoption in many countries. How can we dispel this mistrust?

    December 1, 2015
    Nature
  • We conducted a double-blind, randomized trial of antiretroviral therapy for preexposure HIV-1 prophylaxis among men who have unprotected anal sex with men. Participants were randomly assigned to take a combination of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate and emtricitabine or placebo before and after sexual activity....Use of TDF-FTC before and after sexual activity provided protection against HIV-1 infection in men who have sex with men. The treatment was associated with increased rates of gastrointestinal and renal adverse events.

    December 1, 2015
    NEJM
  • Advocacy by and for people living with HIV infection has accelerated drug development and approval and empowered patients and communities....Yet much more needs to be done....The combination of patient empowerment, community engagement, clinical excellence, and public health focus on outcomes and impact could make management of HIV infection a model for combating other chronic diseases. In another 10 years, scientific advances and further implementation of public health principles could substantially reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States.

    December 1, 2015
    NEJM
  • The timing of ART initiation has remained the subject of intense debate....Today, a series of well-designed efficacy studies over more than a decade has fundamentally changed this discussion [and] provide an evidence-based blueprint for effective treatment and prevention of HIV infection.... However, to realize that promise, the political will must be mobilized to match the scientific evidence and provide the financial and human resources necessary to dramatically scale up HIV testing and treatment around the world.

    December 1, 2015
    NEJM
  • Despite effective viral suppression through combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), approximately half of HIV-positive individuals have HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND)....We hypothesized that myelin changes in HAND are partly due to effects of antiretroviral drugs....Prefrontal cortex tissue from HIV-positive individuals with HAND on cART showed significant decrease in myelin compared with untreated...controls.

    November 30, 2015
    J Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology
  • AIDS remains the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and the leading cause of death in Africa—including among young people. 17 million people lack access to treatment, and 19 million do not know that they live with the virus.

    November 30, 2015
    The Lancet Global Health
  • We compared the preclinical safety and efficacy of Tenofovir (TFV) one percent gel and MZC gel containing 50 μM MIV-150 (M), 14 mM Zn(O2CCH3)2(H2O)2 (Z) and 3 percent carrageenan (C) through a series of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo assays. Both gels showed good antiviral therapeutic indexes. MZC showed greater anti-SHIV-RT activity than TFV one percent gel in rhesus macaque vaginal explants. MZC protected mice from vaginal HSV-2 challenge, but the TFV one percent gel did not.

    November 23, 2015
    AAC
  • Several years ago, the laboratory of Robert Siliciano at Johns Hopkins University reported that the FDA-approved drug disulfiram (Antabuse) could reverse HIV latency in laboratory experiments. [A] pilot study spurred a clinical trial of higher disulfiram doses in HIV-positive individuals on ART. The researchers report in the November 16 Lancet HIV that disulfiram showed evidence of latency-reversing activity at all doses tested. [E]xpansion of this program was announced with the World AIDS Day launch of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research.

    November 16, 2015
    The Lancet

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