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6 MARCH 2015 VOLUME 16 ISSUE 10

Media Coverage

  • Over the past 15 years, the world has seen a change in the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic....But the advances we have made have not benefited everyone equally. We are still failing in one crucial area: preventing HIV infections in young women....Sunday is the 105th International Women’s Day....This year’s global theme, “Make it Happen,” reminds us that we must continue to take action to ensure women have options that can protect them from the threat of HIV and AIDS.
    March 6, 2015
    Devex
  • The medical community has made great strides in HIV prevention methods....Unfortunately, a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine represents a step back. Known as VOICE, the study failed to show any preventive results for women in southern Africa using ARV-based pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) pills or topical microbicide gel....But when a study fails, we must be careful not to imply that the subjects are at fault.
    March 5, 2015
    Al Jazeera America
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed county commissioners to help identify HIV/AIDS positive women and teenagers in their areas, who are to be placed on life-saving anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs. The head of state voiced concern about the alarming number of teenagers suffering silently from HIV/AIDS in the country, and who are not on ARVs....The president spoke today as he officiated the opening of a 2-day inter-religious consultative forum on ending maternal deaths.
    March 5, 2015
    NTV (Kenya)
  • Women’s Day is globally acknowledged and celebrated as a day where women reflect on progress made in all spheres of their lives. On this Day, they call for change, celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women. Women’s Day creates space to honour women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their communities and countries.
    March 5, 2015
    Swazi Observer
  • Dr Mike Chirenje, co-chairperson for the microbicides study and principal investigator UZ-UCSF, said that since the [FACTS 001 trial] "failed to confirm the 39 percent level of protection for HIV infection seen in CAPRISA 004 in 2010, we will not proceed with the demonstration projects that had been planned. Our focus is now on the results of the ongoing ASPIRE ring study expected by early 2016,” said Chirenje.
    March 5, 2015
    The Zimbabwean
  • Director of CAPRISA Professor Abdul Karim says the organisation calls on all AIDS researchers to re-double efforts, despite recent disappointments, to find new HIV prevention technologies for women....Professor Karim said they are now undertaking research on newer, long acting agents such as neutralising antibodies, which could be used as a three monthly injection to prevent HIV.
    March 5, 2015
    ECHO
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it would invest $52 million in CureVac, a German biotechnology company that develops vaccines and immunotherapies, marking the foundation's biggest-ever equity investment. Privately held CureVac uses its proprietary mRNA technology, which allows for rapid low-cost production of drugs and vaccines, to teach the human body to produce proteins capable of fighting a wide range of diseases.
    March 5, 2015
    Reuters
  • Sowa Town Primary Health Care services under the Ministry of Health has partnered with Shadows Arts production to disseminate information and sensitise employees about the effects of HIV and AIDS at the work place....District AIDS coordinator Mr Thatayaone Maithamako...said people had the tendency of leaving their wives at home and starting new relationships at the workplace, a thing that contributes to multi concurrent partnerships (MCPs) and the risk of being infected by HIV.
    March 4, 2015
    Botswana Daily News
  • The health adviser to Zimbabwe's president and its cabinet has blamed some churches for the persistence of HIV related stigma and the country's failure to effectively deal with the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Dr. Timothy Stamps said that by condemning the use of condoms the churches unwittingly encouraged the spread of the HIV virus among their followers.
    March 4, 2015
    Ecumenical News
  • Malaysia’s healthcare and welfare systems must specifically meet women’s needs if Malaysia is serious in ending HIV and AIDS. This is stated in a newly-launched report by the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC). The 22-page report, titled Everything on My Own: A Policy Brief on Women Who Use Drugs in Malaysia...revealed that female drug users were often left behind by the existing healthcare and social support services, leading many to fend for themselves.
    March 4, 2015
    Rakyat Post
  • The National AIDS and STI Control Programme (VMMC) Programme Manager Francis Ndwiga said some of the key factors that led to the success of the programme is the coordination and support from both the government and non-governmental organisations. "There was also acceptability among the communities that do not practice male circumcision culturally and this made us to surpass the target," he said. 
    March 4, 2015
    Coast Week
  • AVAC has called for a global action plan including targets, resources and research agendas to accelerate access to daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), with particular focus on those hardest hit and most underserved, in parallel with continued research to find new prevention options for those most at risk of HIV, especially young African women. This call comes as new data from ARV-based prevention trials provides strong new evidence for how well these options can work. 
     
    March 4, 2015
    EDGE
  • "There is an urgent need to mobilize clinical efforts, service delivery, education, implementation research, and policy to optimize PrEP access and use," said Raphael Landovitz in his compelling plenary address to the 4,000 CROI participants, [who]....heard variations of this enthusiastic, insistent refrain everywhere....Many likened this year to 1996, which ushered in combination therapy for HIV treatment, heralded the rise of highly effective protease inhibitors and called for a "hit hard, hit early" approach--a revolutionary, game-changing year.

    March 4, 2015
    Windy City Times
  • While the US government has helped train more than 140,000 healthcare workers through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief since 2008, Africa still needs more than one million healthcare workers to address a critical shortage, Global AIDS Ambassador Deborah Birx said Monday at a Capitol Hill briefing....She added that...if healthcare workers are trained in HIV care, they can deal with any other disease, including chronic noncommunicable diseases.
    March 3, 2015
    Science Speaks
  • Militants in Ukraine’s breakaway republics...have instigated a brutal war on drugs and alcohol, conducted through extrajudicial detentions, forced labor, and, allegedly, executions....These new policies have driven back underground drug users who once received assistance such as clean needles and ST, and it is threatening to undo the recent gains made against addiction and HIV in one of the most drug-ridden regions of Ukraine.
    March 3, 2015
    Foreign Affairs
  • It is possible, in any close relationship, for a history of generosity to become an expectation of benefit. On global health in particular, America and Tanzania have performed wonders together over the last decade. A cold chain for vaccines reaches from vast warehouses to distant villages. Antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS are generally available....But amid this success, one statistic should cause concern.
    March 3, 2015
    Washington Post
  • Reaching ambitious HIV prevention targets in South Africa will require intensified efforts to engage and retain men and young people in care, according to studies presented last week [Abstracts 152 and 153]. Another study in 3 countries in sub-Saharan Africa showed that to maximize the preventive effect of ART, efforts to expand treatment coverage need to focus on those with the highest viral load off treatment -- mainly people already eligible for treatment under current guidelines.
    March 3, 2015
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb's BMS-663068 or fostemsavir, a first-in-class HIV attachment inhibitor that stops the virus from binding to and entering cells, was well-tolerated and demonstrated good antiviral activity in a study presented last week in Seattle [Abstract 86LB]. Related research showed that BMS-663068 can safely be taken with antiretrovirals commonly used by treatment-experienced patients. A Phase 3 trial is now underway.
     
    March 3, 2015
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has commended Nigeria, and President Goodluck Jonathan for signing the Anti Discrimination Law which protects persons living with HIV and AIDS against discrimination and stigmatization....With the signing into law of the bill, it becomes illegal for employers of labour to either subject prospective employees to HIV tests or to discriminate against employees who are living with the virus.
    March 2, 2015
    Guardian
  • As the true scale of the [AIDS] virus’s devastation began to emerge, a number of scientists set out to investigate its origins....Their research slowly revealed that the virus did not make a single leap from animals, but several. On Monday, a team of researchers filled in the final gaps in the history.
    March 2, 2015
    New York Times
  • Levels of the HIV entry inhibitor maraviroc (Selzentry) in vaginal and rectal tissues did not reach high enough levels with a single oral dose to confer protection against HIV in a laboratory study [in 54 HIV-negative adults, 29 men and 25 women; (CROI Abstract 86LB)]. Multiple doses, however, could still potentially be effective for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP....Maraviroc could be an attractive option for HIV prevention because it acts at an early stage.
    March 2, 2015
    HIV & Hepatitis
  • Gilead Sciences has been busy in India and Japan signing licensing agreements for at least four of its drugs, three for hepatitis C, the other for HIV treatments....In the Japan deal, which involves a chain of licenses, Japan Tobacco has outlicensed two new tenofovir-based HIV drugs to fellow Japan-based drug maker Torii Pharmaceutical to market at home with exclusive rights....
     
    March 2, 2015
    FiercePharma
  • The authors of a February 25 Health Affairs Web first study used data from the Gallup Organization's 2012 World Poll to investigate health and health care perceptions in sub-Saharan Africa compared to other regions of the world....When asked in 2012 whether their health care improved over the previous five years, the poll found public perceptions positively related to the prevalence of HIV only in the countries with the highest prevalence.
     
    February 27, 2015
    Health Affairs Blog
  • The $1.3 billion that the United States government has spent since 2005 encouraging Africans to avoid AIDS by practicing abstinence and fidelity did not measurably change sexual behavior and was largely wasted, according to a study presented at the AIDS conference [CROI]....The researcher, Nathan Lo, analyzed records showing the age of people having sex for the first time, teenage pregnancy, and number of sexual partners, in international health surveys since the 1970s [funded] by the United States.
    February 26, 2015
    New York Times
  • Research towards a cure for HIV continues, despite some recent setbacks. Several investigators presented their work in a session on HIV persistence, latency reversal, and viremia rebound at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections this week in Seattle. There is still enthusiasm in the HIV cure field, said John Mellors of the University of Pittsburgh, but progress will be slow.
    February 26, 2015
    HIV and Hepatitis
  • The BIG Lottery Fund has approved £495,462 of funding to VSO for a three year project – ‘Improving Health of HIV positive prisoners in Zimbabwe’....The funding means that the partners will be able to support the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services to offer testing, counselling and peer support within target prisons....Vocational training and psychosocial support will be offered to make it easier for prisoners to settle back into their communities and find work on their release. 
    February 19, 2015
    ReproNet Africa

Published Research

  • It was great news for HIV prevention, and few seemed to hear it. Five years ago, researchers showed that people likely to be exposed to HIV can cut their risk of infection with a simple pill, but the strategy has been slow to catch on. At the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) here last week, a bevy of new studies quelled most remaining doubts about the real-world effectiveness of what's known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), showed practical ways to use it, and suggested that it could help change the trajectory of the epidemic.

    March 6, 2015
    Science
  • HIV/AIDS researchers call it “shock and kill”—a way to obliterate the final reservoir of latent virus that stands between an infected person and a cure. Last week at a major HIV/AIDS conference here (see main story, p. 1055), a team reported new results from a monkey study that move a few steps toward that grand but elusive goal.
    March 6, 2015
    Science
  • Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of a large-scale sampling-based approach. A significant proportion of patients were found not to be long term follow-up (LTFU), and further, high numbers of patients who were LTFU could not be located. Over a quarter of patients disengaged from care for various reasons including access challenges and familial influences.
     
    March 5, 2015
    Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
  • The US PrEP Demonstration Project is a prospective open-label cohort study assessing PrEP delivery in municipal sexually transmitted disease clinics in San Francisco and Miami and a community health center in Washington, DC....Interest in PrEP is high among a diverse population of MSM at risk for HIV infection when offered in sexually transmitted disease and community health clinics.
     
    March 5, 2015
    JAIDS
  • A cross-sectional face-to-face survey was conducted in three labour camps in Guangxi [N=775]. Mandatory testing is almost universal in the labour camps although a proportion of detainees were unaware that this included an HIV test. HIV test results should be disclosed to all labour camp detainees to reduce their distress of not knowing and prevent misconceptions about their HIV status. Labour camps provide another opportunity to implement universal treatment (‘Test and Treat’) to prevent the spread of HIV.
    March 4, 2015
    Sex Transm Infect
  • A new study has reported that US-based organizations funded 44% of the world's biomedical research in 2012, down from 57% in 2004 (JAMA 313, 174–189; 2015). US governmental biomedical funding fell by 7% of the total global governmental biomedical funding (from 57% to 50%).
    February 27, 2015
    Nature Reviews Drug Discovery

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