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5 February 2016 VOLUME 17 ISSUE 5

Media Coverage

  • The Queensland Health Minister has not ruled out an expansion to the state’s current PrEP trial in light of recent expansions in NSW and Victoria. The news comes as Queensland AIDS Council’s executive director said the state ran the risk of falling behind with access to PrEP and would struggle to meet national targets of zero new transmissions of HIV by 2020.

    February 4, 2016
    Star Observer
  • State Health Officials announce that four more cases of HIV are confirmed to be connected with the Scott County [Indiana] outbreak on Dec. 4. Officials urge people who take part in high-risk behaviors to talk with their local physician about medications that they can take to lower their risk of an infection....PrEP is recommended for people who have injected drugs in the past six months and have shared needles, or works for those who in the past six months have been in drug treatment.

    February 4, 2016
    Fox 28
  • A research project...at the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Copenhagen, shows that the so-called ILCs (innate lymphoid cells) -- a component of the immune system crucial to maintaining immune system balance -- are destroyed in patients infected with HIV. This study highlights the importance of early treatment during an acute HIV infection.

    February 3, 2016
    Science Daily
  • ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini has come out firing on all cylinders, slamming forced virginity testing and other cultural practices as harmful and “steeped in patriarchal practices that serve to oppress women”. In a written statement entitled “Violating the rights of women and girls will not stop HIV and AIDS: The folly of forced virginity testing”, the minister of social development said she is strongly against cultural practices which are demeaning to women.

    February 3, 2016
    City Press
  • Sexually transmitted diseases are becoming increasingly common throughout the country, and thousands of people in Los Angeles County have been infected. Many of them don’t know it. Regular testing for STDs can help prevent their spread and stop them from causing irreparable harm. It can be difficult to navigate your way through testing in Los Angeles. Here’s everything you need to know.

    February 3, 2016
    Los Angeles Times
  • High school learners are at greater risk of contracting HIV in South Africa, with girls particularly vulnerable. This is according to public health specialist Marina Rifkin, from HIV management organisation CareWorks, who noted that these teens were not necessarily skilled in negotiating condom use with their partners. With sexual debuts of many young people happening before they reached the legal age of consensual sex at 16, she said many would have had their first sexual experience by the age of 14 or even younger.

    February 3, 2016
    South Africa Today
  • Daily police harassment is undermining efforts to prevent HIV in people who inject drugs. This is according to the TB/HIV Care Association (THCA), which has recorded 246 cases of “abuses” of this group – the vast majority by police - in just three months in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. Some local councillors, community policing forums and gangsters were also implicated in the alleged abuses....Most of the “abuses” recorded by the THCA involved police confiscating or destroying the clean needles and syringes they had just been given.

    February 3, 2016
    Health-e News
  • A broad range of factors are associated with cognitive impairment in middle-aged HIV-positive men, according to Dutch research published in the online edition of AIDS. The observational, cross-sectional, case-controlled study involved antiretroviral-treated participants with sustained viral suppression. Reduced cognitive function was associated with cannabis use, depression, metabolic factors and previous HIV-related immune suppression. “Decreased cognitive performance probably results from a multifactorial process,” comment the authors.

    February 3, 2016
    aidsmap
  • All 69 of the United States' National Cancer Institute-designated centers have joined together to issue a statement urging an increase in HPV vaccinations, declaring the vaccines "tragically underused" and calling low uptake a "public health threat"....The Centers said countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom and Rwanda have demonstrated high vaccination rates are possible, as each of those countries [has] above a 75% vaccination rate.

    February 3, 2016
    Fierce Vaccines
  • CytoDyn Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of new therapies for combating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, announced that its ongoing extension study of PRO 140 monotherapy in a cohort of HIV-infected patients has shown complete viral-load suppression for well over a year with some patients approaching 17 months.

    February 2, 2016
    Drug Discovery News
  • Can a piece of film half the size of a standard Band-Aid protect women from HIV and genital herpes? That’s the promise of MB66, a “multipurpose prevention technology” being developed by San Diego–based firm Leaf Bio....MB66 is a quick-dissolving film that carries antiviral human monoclonal antibodies—grown in plants—to the mucosal surface of the vagina. In preclinical tests, the film has worked to block viral transmission for 12 to 24 hours.

    February 2, 2016
    Scientist Magazine
  • Scientists report progress in their bid to develop ways to piggyback an HIV vaccine on germs that cause colds. In the new study, Harvard researchers said they successfully used cold viruses to deliver an experimental HIV vaccine to humans. The approach “appears to be safe and well-tolerated, and the injection induces a moderate immune response against HIV in humans,” said Dr. James Crowe, director of Vanderbilt Vaccine Center in Nashville.

    February 2, 2016
    HealthCast
  • New research findings published in the February 2016 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggest that a new therapeutic strategy for HIV may already be available by repurposing an existing prescription drug. The drug, an enzyme called adenosine deaminase, or ADA, ultimately may be able to activate the immune system against HIV and to help the immune system "remember" the virus to prevent or quickly eliminate future infection.

    February 2, 2016
    Science Daily
  • The spread of Zika virus across Latin America, with its apparent tragic consequences..., has parallels with the emergence of AIDS more than 30 years ago, according to a senior epidemiologist on the frontline in Brazil. Wilson Savino, director of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, said: “In Brazil, although we have identified the Zika virus, we don’t know much about it....The degree of ignorance is comparable to what we faced 32 years ago."

    February 2, 2016
    Guardian
  • More than half of people who experienced failure of a tenofovir-based antiretroviral regimen in sub-Saharan Africa had resistance to tenofovir, a meta-analysis of drug resistance studies published in Lancet Infectious Diseases has shown. The study found that the prevalence of tenofovir resistance after first-line failure ranged from 20% in Western Europe and North America to 56% - 60% in sub-Saharan Africa....[T]he researchers made two findings that may explain regional variations in tenofovir resistance.

    February 1, 2016
    aidsmap
  • While cancer hasn’t previously been considered a major health problem in most African countries, it has emerged as a leading cause of death....In Kenya, it’s the third-highest cause of morbidity....That’s why IntraHealth International’s FUNZO Kenya Project is helping train health workers to screen for cervical cancer among women of reproductive age, particularly those who live with HIV.

    February 1, 2016
    IntraHealth
  • The formal addition of the 9-valent human papillomavirus vaccine, along with the serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine for certain adolescents, are just two of the updates to the 2016 recommended vaccine schedule for [US] children and adolescents released by the American Academy of Pediatrics,...the first time the vaccine has been formally added to the AAP-endorsed schedule. The group now recommends immunization with the HPV vaccine for children as young as age 9 if they have a history of sexual abuse.

    February 1, 2016
    MedPage Today
  • Gilead’s Type II variation application for once-daily Truvada in combination with safer sex practices to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection among uninfected adults at high risk, a strategy known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, has been fully validated and is now under evaluation by the European Medicines Agency.

    February 1, 2016
    European Pharmaceutical Review
  • In the vernacular of the US Food and Drug Administration, personal lubricants are classified as Class II medical devices [and]....not explicitly required to undergo mammalian safety testing. But the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health informed lube industry stakeholders last year that all products would be required by December 31, 2015 to submit premarketing notifications that would include safety testing in rabbits and guinea pigs....People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and product manufacturers have registered objections.

    January 30, 2016
    Forbes
  • On Dec. 3, 2015, all major candidates running for the White House were asked to submit their plans to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic to GMHC, the world's first HIV/AIDS service organization....Of the 18 candidates who received the survey, only three responded -- Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders. No Republican campaigns submitted a reply, and prominent HIV/AIDS activists were quick to note their silence wasn't unprecedented.

    January 30, 2016
    MSNBC
  • Access to a drug lauded for halting the spread of HIV will be provided to more than 2500 people in a push to wipe out new infections. A major expansion of a trial for the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PReP) drug will begin later this year for people at high risk of contracting the disease. The [Victoria] state government has revealed it will increase the number of participants in the trial from 100 to 2600 people.

    January 29, 2016
    Sydney Morning Herald
  • PrEP raises important challenges in the context of female sex work. To protect sexual and reproductive health and avoid pregnancy, PrEP must be used with condoms but that may be difficult where clients perceive PrEP as an alternative. Frequent HIV testing and medicalisation of HIV prevention in low-income settings presents challenges for those who lack the rights and power needed to make informed health-related decisions.

    January 29, 2016
    Institute of Development Studies
  • Nearly half of HIV infected patients suffer from impaired neurocognitive function. The HIV protein transactivator of transcription (Tat) is an important contributor to HIV neuropathogenesis because it is a potent neurotoxin that continues to be produced despite treatment with antiretroviral therapy.

    January 29, 2016
    Science Daily
  • HIV may continue to replicate in sanctuary sites in lymphoid tissues despite antiretroviral therapy, and may not necessarily develop drug resistance mutations, researchers reported in the January 27 online edition of Nature....These findings suggest that in addition to the variety of experimental approaches for activating and eradicating latently infected cells, finding ways to get antiretroviral drugs into the lymph nodes and other sanctuary sites at high enough levels may also be important for a functional cure

    January 29, 2016
    HIV&Hepatitis
  • Long-term therapy with the antiretroviral drug tenofovir (Viread, also in several coformulations including Truvada and Atripla) increases the risk of end-stage liver disease and liver cancer, according to the D:A:D study published in the January 18 online edition of AIDS. Researchers found that 5-year cumulative use of the drug increased the relative risk of serious liver disease by 46%....The relationship between tenofovir and serious liver disease surprised the study’s authors, who call for further research.

    January 29, 2016
    HIV and Hepatitis
  • People with HIV can find lower cost plans by conducting a more comprehensive cost assessment that includes other factors such as deductibles, drug costs, and out-of-pocket maximums. The analysis explores 300 possible enrollment scenarios for five plans in five [US] states that together account for about 50 percent of the national HIV epidemic.

    January 28, 2016
    Kaiser Family Foundation
  • "PrEP.” Those four letters stand for a daily medical regimen in which healthy individuals take a blue oval pill to lower their risk of becoming infected with HIV. The treatment, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, has become so common in the Bay Area’s gay community that it’s frequently mentioned in social media profiles....As many as 10,000 San Franciscans could now be on PrEP. The treatment has been transformative here.

    January 28, 2016
    Washington Post
  • LeafBio, Inc. [has] announced that a clinical safety trial of MB66 has begun. MB66 is intended to block sexual transmission of genital herpes and HIV as a rapidly dissolving film that releases anti-viral monoclonal antibodies to the vaginal mucosa. A consortium of investigators from universities and the pharmaceutical industry is evaluating MB66....The Phase 1 safety trial is being conducted at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

    January 27, 2016
    LeafBio
  • Protein microbicides containing neutralizing antibodies and antiviral lectins may help reduce the infection of HIV if its components are manufactured in large quantities at affordable cost....Scientists, led by Evangelia Vamvaka, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center in Spain, expressed the antiviral lectin griffithsin (GRFT)...in transgenic rice ...[and] established a one-step purification protocol...which could be developed into a larger-scale process to facilitate inexpensive downstream processing.

    January 27, 2016
    Crop Biotech Update
  • Africa has taken a major step in accelerating access to much needed safe, effective and quality medicines for the treatment of priority diseases by adopting the African Union Model for Medical Product Regulation.

    January 2, 2016
    Pharma Africa

Published Research

  • We conducted a retrospective, longitudinal study of the 50 US states over 2000–2009 using a dataset of HIV/AIDS case rates and AIDS deaths per 100 000 people matched with a unique dataset of state-level spending on social services and public health per person in poverty. States with higher spending on social services and public health per person in poverty had significantly lower HIV and AIDS case rates and fewer AIDS deaths, both 1 and 5 years post expenditure.

    February 20, 2016
    AIDS
  • [Our] suggest that local SW-IDU have elevated rates of HIV infection. However, our exploration of risk factors among SW-IDU demonstrated that drug use patterns and environmental factors, rather than sexual risks, may explain the elevated HIV incidence among SW-IDU locally. Our findings highlight the need for social and structural interventions, including increased access to harm reduction programs and addiction treatment.

    February 20, 2016
    AIDS
  • This is a nested study within the Women's Interagency HIV Study, a multicenter, prospective cohort of HIV-infected women. Through intensive TFV pharmacokinetic sampling, we found a strong association between greater TFV exposure and subsequent decline in kidney function. Variations in TFV drug exposure may partially account for subsequent nephrotoxicity in persons infected with HIV.

    February 4, 2016
    AIDS
  • Mozambique is fighting to gain control of its HIV epidemic, leading with a plan to strategically enroll substantial numbers of people with HIV in treatment programs in an effort to end transmission.… Enrollment on treatment is only the first step, though, for a country with one of the 10 highest HIV prevalence rates in the world. For Mozambique to succeed..., it is going to need to figure out how to keep those patients on ART.

    February 4, 2016
    Lancet
  • In 13 out of 18 countries the prevalence ratio was higher for the younger age group compared to the age group 25–49 years and this difference did not change over time....The gender disparity was greater among those who were married/living together than among the never-married....Women continue to carry the greater burden of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa and there is no clear pattern of change in the gap between men and women.

    February 3, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München discover that extracts of the medicinal plant Cistus incanus (Ci) prevent human immunodeficiency viruses from infecting cells. Active antiviral ingredients in the extracts inhibit docking of viral proteins to cells. Antiviral activity of Cistus extracts also targets Ebola and Marburg viruses. The results were published in Scientific Reports.

    February 2, 2016
    Science Daily
  • To assess a novel vaccine platform as a prophylactic HIV-1 regimen....Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Both participants and study personnel were blinded to treatment allocation.

    February 2, 2016
    Annals of Internal Medicine
  • Prevalence of HIV was 10.3% among professionals and 6.5% among part-time sex workers (PTSW). Only 3 of 46 HIV-infected women were aware of their status. Overall, 277 (45.6%) women reported high-risk behaviours (41.2% among professionals and 47.5% among PTSW), which were driven mainly by non-systematic condom use with regular partners. PTSW and having a primary or higher education level remained associated with high-risk behaviours.

    February 1, 2016
    Sex Transm Dis
  • We recruited newly diagnosed HIV-infected women, who were 32 or less weeks pregnant, from 89 antenatal care clinics in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Among women with newly diagnosed HIV, small, incremental cash incentives resulted in increased retention along the PMTCT cascade and uptake of available services. The cost-effectiveness of these incentives and their effect on HIV-free survival warrant further investigation.

    February 1, 2016
    Lancet HIV
  • Marcel Yotebieng [et al] report a trial of conditional cash transfers to retain pregnant women with newly diagnosed HIV in PMTCT programmes in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The researchers found that linkage to care through antenatal services could be bolstered through small payments to women to ensure that they attended all PMTCT visits and complied with all interventions. Examples such as Cuba and innovations in PMTCT as in [this] trial mean that elimination of MTCT of HIV by 2020 could be achievable.

    February 1, 2016
    Lancet HIV
  • Patients with HIV and tuberculosis in eastern Europe have a risk of death nearly four-times higher than that in patients from western Europe and Latin America. This increased mortality rate is associated with modifiable risk factors such as lack of drug susceptibility testing and suboptimal initial antituberculosis treatment in settings with a high prevalence of drug resistance. Urgent action is needed.

    February 1, 2016
    Lancet HIV
  • Recently, when it comes to tuberculosis, there has been no shortage of bad news. WHO announced in November that, once again, the disease has earned the dubious distinction of being the leading infectious killer of adults. And, now, in The Lancet HIV, Daria Podlekareva and colleagues show that almost one in every three people living with HIV in eastern Europe who is diagnosed with tuberculosis is dead within a year.

    February 1, 2016
    Lancet HIV
  • In this issue, Ravindra Gupta and colleagues present compelling findings of the epidemiology of HIV drug resistance. Based on results of a collaborative study termed TenoRes, the researchers clearly document that prevalence of HIV drug resistance against the commonly used antiretroviral drug tenofovir is far higher than expected, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This result is disconcerting because it was previously thought that tenofovir might be less prone to development of drug resistance than other compounds.

    February 1, 2016
    Lancet Infectious Diseases
  • This study assesses the impact of school-based HIV vaccination and explores how variations in vaccine characteristics affect cost-effectiveness....Data from this work demonstrate that vaccines offering longer duration of protection and at lower cost would result in improved incremental cost-effectiveness values. School-based HIV vaccine services of adolescents, in addition to current HIV prevention and treatment health services delivered, would be cost-effective.

    January 31, 2016
    Medicine
  • The TenoRes collaboration comprises adult HIV treatment cohorts and clinical trials of HIV drug resistance testing in Europe, Latin and North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Our primary outcome was tenofovir resistance....We recorded drug resistance in a high proportion of patients after virological failure on a tenofovir-containing first-line regimen across low-income and middle-income regions. Prevalence of tenofovir resistance was highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

    January 28, 2016
    Lancet Infectious Diseases
  • We have measured 45 soluble proteins and peptides in cervicovaginal lavage samples from 100 HIV negative women at high risk for HIV infection. Women using injectable DMPA had increased concentration of several soluble proteins of the innate and adaptive immune system....Women using combined oral contraceptives had a similar signature....The identified signature profiles may prove critical in evaluating the potential safety and impact on risk of HIV acquisition of different biomedical intervention strategies.

    January 27, 2016
    PLoS ONE
  • We investigated HIV-specific IgG and IgA responses to envelope glycoproteins, p24 Gag and p66, in the genital tract (GT) and plasma following HIV acquisition in women assigned to tenofovir gel (n=24) and placebo gel (n=24) in the CAPRISA 004 microbicide trial to assess if this topical antiretroviral had an impact on mucosal and systemic antibody responses....Taken together, [our] data suggest that humoral immune responses are increased in blood and GT of individuals who acquire HIV infection in the presence of tenofovir gel.

    January 27, 2016
    Immunology
  • Family planning providers recruited via website postings, national meetings, and email completed an anonymous survey in 2015. Even among providers in the Northeast and West, the proportion of respondents answering questions correctly was less than 50%. Thirty-six percent of respondents had seen any PrEP guidelines. Providers identified lack of training as the main barrier to PrEP implementation; 87% wanted PrEP education.

    January 6, 2016
    Contraception Journal

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