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CDC Researchers Publish Estimate of Effectiveness of Condom Use for Gay Men

A paper published this month in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes finally makes publicly available a study-- originally reported nearly 2 years ago from the 2013 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections but until now unobtainable even as an abstract -- which gives an estimate for the effectiveness of 100% condom use as the strategy of choice for the prevention of HIV infection among gay men. The CDC researchers estimate that condoms used consistently stop 7 out of 10 HIV infections acquired through anal sex between men.

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HIV Drug Therapy: Lower-dose Efavirenz May Be Equally Effective with Fewer Side Effects

A reduced dose of efavirenz (Sustiva or Stocrin) for first-line HIV therapy suppressed viral load as well as the standard dose, but was associated with fewer characteristic side effects, researchers reported at the recent HIV Drug Therapy 2014 meeting in Glasgow. A related study found that half the dose maintained viral suppression in people with high efavirenz levels in their blood.

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Semen May Enhance HIV Infectivity and Impair Microbicide Effectiveness

A component in semen appears to increase the likelihood of sexual transmission of HIV, and furthermore may enable the virus to over-power topical microbicides designed to prevent infection, according to a study published in the November 12 edition of Science Translational Medicine. This may be one of the factors explaining why drugs that block HIV infection in laboratory experiments have not worked in real-world settings, the researchers suggested.

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Neutralizing Antibodies from Llamas Provide Clues for HIV Vaccine Research

Heavy-chain broadly neutralizing antibodies produced by llamas can neutralize a wide range of circulating HIV virus strains, suggesting that immunization could potentially induce protective antibodies against HIV in humans, according to a report in the December 18 edition of PLoS Pathogens.

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European Commission Approves Boosted Darunavir Combo Rezolsta for HIV

The European Commission last month approved a new fixed-dose coformulation -- dubbed Rezolsta -- containing the HIV protease inhibitor darunavir boosted with the novel pharmacoenhancer cobicistat, Janssen recently announced. The combination is currently being evaluated for U.S. approval.

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Happy Holidays from HIVandHepatitis.com

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Only 30% of People with HIV in U.S. Have Undetectable Viral Load

Less than one-third of people living with HIV in the U.S. are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) with full viral suppression, which is key to good health and reduced risk of transmission, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report. In 2011, out of an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV, just 4 in 10 were receiving HIV medical care and only 3 in 10 had undetectable viral load. "The bottom line is HIV care and treatment not only work to improve health and prolong lives, but also prevent transmission," said CDC director Tom Frieden. "You can save your life and save the life of someone else."

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Smoking Doubles Risk of Death for People with HIV Taking Antiretroviral Therapy

Smoking doubles the mortality risk for people with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy, a study published recently in AIDS shows. Smokers had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-AIDS-related cancers, and the life expectancy of a 35-year-old man with HIV was reduced by almost 8 years due to smoking.

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CDC Surveillance Report Shows Small Decline in HIV Diagnosis, but Disparities Persist

While the overall number of new HIV infections remains stable, the rate of diagnosis appears to be decreasing, according to the latest HIV Surveillance Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes data through the end of 2012. Black and Latino people, men who have sex with men, and young people continue to be disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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CDC Collaboration Issues New Prevention Recommendations for People with HIV

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with several government, professional, and non-profit organizations, last week issued updated recommendations about biomedical, behavioral, and structural interventions to help people with HIV reduce the risk of onward transmission of the virus.

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UNAIDS: HIV Epidemic Will Spring Back without Near-Universal Diagnosis and Treatment

Adopting "fast-track" targets could avert more than 28 million new HIV infections and prevent 21 million AIDS-related deaths by 2030, according to this year's UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report. However, if the response is not rapidly scaled-up over the next 5 years to achieve near-universal diagnosis and treatment, the epidemic is likely to "spring back" with an even higher rate of new HIV infections than today, the report warns.

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HIV Has Become More Virulent Over Time, Not Less, European Study Finds

The largest cohort study ever to look at CD4 count and viral loads in HIV positive people around the time of diagnosis has found evidence that HIV -- at least in Europe -- has become more virulent over time. The average time taken to reach a CD4 count below 350 cells/mm3 has halved over the last 25 years, researchers calculate. This conflicts with recently reported findings from Africa suggesting HIV has gotten weaker, suggesting that local conditions may drive viral evolution in opposite directions.

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December 1 Is World AIDS Day

Monday, December 1, is the 26th World AIDS Day, an opportunity both to remember the millions of people who have been lost to the epidemic and to raise awareness and focus efforts on ongoing challenges such as gaps in HIV prevention and care. An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. and 35 million worldwide are now living with HIV/AIDS, according to the CDC.

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Obamacare Deadline Coming Up, Guide Offers Covered California Advice for HIV, HCV, PrEP

December 15 is the deadline to enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare") health plans for insurance coverage starting on January 1, 2015. Finding the right plan can be tricky for people with HIV or hepatitis C, and for those who want coverage for Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), but there are resources to help.

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PLoS Publishes Free Special Collection on HIV Care and Prevention for Sex Workers

PLoS, publisher of open-access research, has announced a special collection of articles on the health of female sex workers, focusing on delivery and scale-up of HIV care and prevention interventions. UNAIDS and other organizations have recognized sex workers as of the key affected populations in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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No New HIV Infections Seen Among San Francisco Kaiser PrEP Users

No new HIV infections have occurred among more than 500 Kaiser Permanente San Francisco members using pre-exposure prophylaxis -- better known as PrEP -- but condom use appears to be declining among a subset of gay men, according to a small survey presented at a December 1 forum commemorating World AIDS Day.

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Triple Antiretroviral Therapy Best for Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

A 3-drug regimen containing lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) plus 2 nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) was more effective at preventing perinatal HIV transmission than taking a single drug during pregnancy, another during labor, and 2 more after delivery, according to findings from the PROMISE study.

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HIV Drug Therapy: Efavirenz Not Linked to Higher Suicide Risk in D:A:D Cohort

People taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens containing the NNRTI efavirenz (Sustiva) were not more likely to die due to suicide or psychiatric illness than those taking other drugs in the large D:A:D cohort, researchers reported last month at the HIV Drug Therapy 2014 meeting in Glasgow.

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HIV R4P: Positive Response to Gift Tokens for Undetectable Viral Load Trial

A U.S. study presented at last month’s HIV Research for Prevention conference found generally positive responses among people with HIV and clinic staff to a trial that used $70 gift tokens as an incentive for people to maintain an undetectable viral load. However, the study found that only just under half of patients had an accurate understanding of what viral load was, and that this did not improve during the study.

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HIV in the UK: 76% Diagnosed, 90% on Treatment, 90% Undetectable

The United Kingdom's annual epidemiological report, released in late November, shows that the country already provides HIV treatment to 90% of people accessing clinical services and that 90% of those on treatment have an undetectable viral load. But the country has a long way to go in ensuring that people with HIV are aware of their HIV status -- only 76% of people living with HIV have been diagnosed. The problem is particularly acute in black African communities, as only 62% of African heterosexual men and 69% of African heterosexual women living with HIV have been diagnosed.

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Delaying Treatment More than 12 Months after HIV Infection Reduces CD4 Cell Recovery

People with HIV who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) more than a year after seroconversion have a lower likelihood of regaining normal CD4 T-cell counts, researchers reported in the November 24 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine. "If full restoration of immunologic and clinical health is our goal, then the present study tells us that the best chance we have is to start antiretroviral therapy within 12 months of infection," according to an accompanying editorial.

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