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5 May 2017 VOLUME 18 ISSUE 18

Media Coverage

  • The board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) met in Rwandan capital Kigali Wednesday and selected Aida Kurtovic as its new Chair for a two-year term. Kurtovic, who is from Bosnia and Herzegovina, had served as Vice-Chair for the past two years. Prior to serving as Vice-Chair, she also served as a board member, and has been involved with the Global Fund in numerous capacities.

    May 4, 2017
    Xinhua
  • The absence of a voice for science in the administration may have contributed to the draconian cuts to the US NIH and EPA proposed in Trump’s 2018 budget blueprint....Biomedical researchers, meanwhile, are waiting to see how long Francis Collins will continue to serve as director of the NIH....The uncertainty makes it difficult for agencies to plan ahead, negotiate for resources and launch initiatives. And the patchwork of vacancies will debilitate efforts to deal with emerging crises.

    May 4, 2017
    Nature
  • Voluntary medical male circumcision has many health benefits, but despite this it remains rare among older men who are among the main drivers of the HIV epidemic…[but] do not undergo VMMC as frequently as their younger peers.

    May 4, 2017
    Mpumalanga News
  • There are several reasons why women contract HIV more often than men. Some are biological..., [some] cultural....On May 3rd, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) announced a clinical trial that it hopes could help the situation: a small silicone ring designed to be inserted into the vagina, from where, for the next three months, it releases steady doses of dapivirine and levonorgestrel. The first of those is an anti-HIV drug. The second is a contraceptive.

    May 4, 2017
    Economist
  • In a major policy shift that is reverberating across the biomedical research community, the NIH says it plans to cap the number of grants an investigator can hold in order to free up funding for early-career scientists and those struggling to keep their labs afloat. The new policy will limit the amount of support a single investigator can have to the equivalent of three bread-and-butter NIH R01 grants.

    May 3, 2017
    Science
  • The International Partnership for Microbicides [has] announced the launch of a phase 1 trial assessing the safety and efficacy of its 3-month vaginal ring designed to prevent HIV and unintended pregnancy....According to a press release, the multipurpose ring slowly and simultaneously releases... dapivirine to prevent HIV and the contraceptive hormone levonorgestrel. [It] builds on similar technology used for IPM’s monthly dapivirine-only ring.

    May 3, 2017
    Healio
  • A new map developed by researchers at UCLA in California calls into question whether a UN strategy for eliminating AIDS will succeed in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of people living with HIV reside.

    May 3, 2017
    Inside Science
  • Gradually ramping up promotion of its HIV-prevention pill, Gilead Sciences has turned to humor, dating apps, and social-media sites like Tumblr and Snapchat to raise awareness about HIV prevention.

    May 3, 2017
    MM&M
  • The Wednesday rollout of a new method to prevent HIV infections is a major step....It involves getting sexually active young women and girls aged 15 to 24 at a high risk of contracting HIV to take an anti-retroviral pill, Truvada, daily, to lower chances of getting infected. At Sh3,700 a month, the pill is well beyond the reach of many, but the saving grace is that there is a generic equivalent for Sh413.

    May 2, 2017
    Daily Nation
  • You may greet with skepticism the announcement of India’s new HIV law, which began to make its way through that country’s parliament the same year the Uganda bill was launched. This bill, however, aims in the direction its title implies, banning discrimination, harassment and unauthorized disclosure of people living with HIV, easing access to health services, supporting principles of medical confidentiality and informed consent and promoting evidence-based prevention.

    May 2, 2017
    Science Speaks
  • This year, PrEP advocates noted a stunning disconnect between key organizations that issue guidelines on use of Truvada for HIV prevention....How come two respected and influential organizations are providing contradictory information? What should physicians and community health workers tell people...how long they need to take PrEP before it becomes effective?...These were among questions...AVAC attempted to answer in two webinars featuring pharmacologists, physicians, advocates and guideline developers from CDC and WHO.

    May 2, 2017
    BodyPRO
  • An evaluation of 8 rapid diagnostic tests widely used...by Médecins Sans Frontières shows that the tests vary in performance, with false positive results a concern,...researchers report in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. The findings confirm that the diagnosis of HIV should not be based on results from a single HIV rapid diagnostic test....A separate analysis, in Clinical Infectious Diseases, highlights the dangers of HIV treatment programmes not routinely re-testing individuals before they begin treatment.

    May 2, 2017
    aidsmap
  • Drs. Larry Corey and Diane Havlir discuss what it will take to get to zero HIV infections worldwide at the Fortune Brainstorm Health Conference, 2 May 2017, [in San Diego, California]. [Video at link]

    May 2, 2017
    Fortune
  • The new bill includes a small cut for the CDC; fully funded, however, are programs designed to prepare for pandemics or bioterrorism attacks....A Health and Human Services Department program to promote abstinence education for teenagers, renamed "sexual risk avoidance" in the new budget, had its funding increased by 50 percent, to $15 million.

    May 2, 2017
    Washington Post
  • Scientists report on a clinical trial evaluating an intervention to achieve universal HIV testing and treatment in Zambia. Researchers estimate that, after one year, the overall proportion of people with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) had increased from 44 percent to 61 percent.

    May 2, 2017
    Science Daily
  • It is clear Congress has little interest in harming the NIH....That's particularly meaningful for companies....The NIH...is a backbone of the research ecosystem on which they depend....NIH funding doesn't mean as much to the much larger pharma lobby...but the sector is definitely pro-NIH....Basic research of the type the NIH funds is time-consuming and failure-prone. Pharmaceutical companies are very happy when other people do it for them.

    May 1, 2017
    Bloomberg
  • By the end of 2007, most presidential candidates, including John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, had accepted the challenge to create a strategy. In June 2010, President Obama issued the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. [Herewith] five things we learned from [its] implementation.

    May 1, 2017
    BodyPRO
  • A permanent cure for HIV infection remains elusive due to the virus's ability to hide away in latent reservoirs. But now, in new research published May 3 in Molecular Therapy, scientists at Temple University and University of Pittsburgh show they can excise HIV DNA from the genomes of living animals to eliminate further infection. They are the first to perform the feat in three different animal models.

    May 1, 2017
    Science Daily
  • From the start, it didn’t seem likely Republican lawmakers would agree with President Trump’s proposed cuts to the NIH. Even some of the most conservative legislators had worked in recent years to increase the agency’s funding, and the White House figures represented a dramatic reversal of that effort. With the release of their budget agreement for 2017, lawmakers have demonstrated how little they cared for the administration’s plans for NIH.

    May 1, 2017
    The Atlantic
  • The Gates Foundation says responding to deadly outbreaks isn’t its forte. But the Ebola crisis showed just how much global public health depends on the foundation....But governments and private foundations are not interchangeable — in how they set their goals, in how they work with others, in how they are held accountable. Yet when a disease does not have the Gates Foundation’s attention, the global health community can struggle to do much at all.

    May 1, 2017
    Huffington Post
  • Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Dr Ruth Labode said ignoring the existence of key populations in Zimbabwe may reverse the gains made towards combating HIV and Aids...."Our major challenge is that while we are nationally at 13 percent [HIV prevalence], sex workers have a prevalence of 60 percent,” said Dr Labode. “For the LGBTIs, their HIV prevalence ranges between 20 and 30 percent and in prisons it is around 30 to 40 percent."

    May 1, 2017
    Chronicle
  • The start of appropriations season in Congress means that...the NIH must compete against other federal programs for funding....If the scientific community rallies, we can regain the continuing support for the NIH that pervaded the halls of Congress....last fall and this week....But that is unlikely...unless scientists are able to convince Americans...that science isn’t just...discovering new cures and treatments for diseases, but is also the engine for economic prosperity based on innovation and global leadership in research and development.

    May 1, 2017
    STAT
  • I came away from two research visits with new understanding of the complexity of sex work....As a doctor, I learned how we are failing these women by focusing too much on the sexual nature of their work rather than seeing them as people with basic needs for survival. When one Perna woman was asked if she knew about HIV or using condoms, she responded, "No one has told us about this at all."

    April 30, 2017
    NPR
  • Forty-three senators signed an open letter to the four senators leading federal budget negotiations, asking them to protect the foreign aid budget....It is the latest round of resistance to the Trump federal budget proposal....The majority of the signatories on the Senate letter are Democrats, but foreign aid enjoys strong support from Republicans as well.

    April 28, 2017
    Humanosphere
  • Largely funded by the government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India...received a letter of notice last week alleging that funds from the Gates Foundation were diverted from its original purpose. “Certain observations have been made by the Ministry [of Home Affairs] on utilization of funds related to [the Public Health Foundation of India’s] projects on tobacco, HIV/AIDS and its financial reports,” the health group said in a statement to the Indian Express.

    April 21, 2017
    Humanosphere
  • Researchers at Johns Hopkins and George Washington universities report new evidence that proteins created by defective forms of HIV long previously believed to be harmless actually interact with our immune systems....HIV proviruses can outnumber functional HIV 1,000 copies to one and the faulty proteins they create can complicate efforts to measure viral load, exhaust immune systems, shield functional HIV from attack..., and seriously complicate development of a cure.

    April 19, 2017
    News Medical
  • HIV cure research has focused on clearing the virus from T cells..., yet investigators at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have found the virus persists in HIV-infected macrophages...found throughout the body, including the liver, lung, bone marrow and brain...."These results are paradigm changing," said Jenna Honeycutt, PhD. "That HIV-infected macrophages can persist means that any possible therapeutic intervention to eradicate HIV might have to target two very different types of cells."

    April 17, 2017
    News Medical

Published Research

  • In January, we considered the future of HIV/AIDS funding in the USA in light of the election of President Donald Trump, particularly overseas funding and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). When asked about his views on the fight against HIV/AIDS, the President's response was positive. However, in the latest list of options for funding cuts from the White House, PEPFAR is in the extensive list of federal agencies and departments in the crosshairs.

    May 4, 2017
    Lancet
  • South Africa has an enabling, comprehensive and progressive legislative and policy framework for adolescent and youth friendly services,...[but some] characteristics continue to hamper effective provision and delivery. [Needs]: amendment of some health facility regulations,...provision of on-going professional development and attitudinal training...,[and] more youth involvement in programme design and provision.

    May 4, 2017
    Children and Youth Services Review
  • We commend Richard Hayes and colleagues for their success in navigating the complex logistic challenges in implementing...a large-scale universal testing and treatment intervention in sub-Saharan Africa, described...in this issue....Overall, [their] results suggest that it is unlikely that...optimistic forecasts...of an imminent end to the global HIV epidemic will be fulfilled. Substantial resources are needed to further scale up ART..., and allocation of limited resources will need to be optimised on the basis of evidence of efficacy.

    May 2, 2017
    PLoS
  • Acceptance of HIV testing...was high, although linkage to care and ART initiation took longer than expected. Knowledge of HIV-positive status increased steeply after 1 year, almost attaining the first "90" target in women and approaching it in men. The second "90" target was more challenging....Achieving higher test uptake in men and more rapid linkage to care will be key objectives during the second annual round.

    May 2, 2017
    PLoS
  • Supporting scientific research should be a top priority of any society that aims to make progress and thrive. Reducing funding for research will adversely affect individual and population health. However, mounting pressure for budget cuts for major science agencies is an unfortunate reality. How can the medical community, other scientists, and the public defend science better under these circumstances? Can this challenge be used as an opportunity for reform?

    May 1, 2017
    JAMA
  • Results: Most adolescents, especially those who were not out to their parents, would be unwilling to participate in an HIV study if parental permission were required....Adolescents suggested steps researchers could take to facilitate informed decision making about research participation and ensure minors’ safety in the absence of parental permission.

    April 30, 2017
    Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • PROUD participants were randomly assigned to receive PrEP immediately or after a deferred period of one-year....Most accepted the design but acknowledged they were, or would have been, disappointed to be randomised to the deferred group....The quantitative and qualitative findings suggest that in an environment where PrEP was not available, the rationale for the wait-listed trial design was well understood and generally acceptable to most participants in this study.

    April 20, 2017
    PLoS

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