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CROI 2016: Dose-Finding Trials of Antibody-Based Drugs for HIV Prevention To Start Soon

The next generation of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and even HIV treatment, may consist of antibodies that could be given as an intravenous infusion or an injection into muscle, according to 2 presenters at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston.

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CROI 2016: Personalized Counseling Improves Rate of Entry into HIV Care

Entry into HIV care can be increased by around 40% if people receive a point-of-care CD4 test and counseling sessions to overcome personal barriers to seeking HIV care, according to a large randomized study in South Africa presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) last month in Boston. However, the study also found that only half of the people who received the most effective linkage intervention and who were in need of immediate treatment made it onto antiretroviral therapy (ART) within 6 months of their HIV diagnosis, highlighting the need for further improvements in linkage to HIV care.

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CROI 2016: PopART Shows Feasibility of Reaching 90-90-90 HIV Testing and Treatment Targets

Early findings from the PopART study of the impact of a test-and-treat strategy on antiretroviral treatment coverage and HIV incidence show that after one round of household-based testing, linkage to care, and offer of immediate antiretroviral therapy, 90% of adults knew their HIV status and 71% of adults diagnosed with HIV were on treatment, according to preliminary findings presented at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston. The primary outcome of the study -- the impact of expanded treatment coverage on HIV incidence -- is expected to be reported in mid-2018.

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Study Sheds Light on Why Women Need More Truvada for HIV PrEP

Tenofovir and emtricitabine -- the drugs in the Truvada combination pill used for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) -- reach higher levels in rectal compared with female genital tract tissue, and the rectum also contains fewer of the natural DNA building blocks that compete with the drugs, according to research published in the February 24 advance online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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CROI 2016: Cotrimoxazole Prophylaxis Provides No Benefit for HIV-Exposed Uninfected Children

Challenging current guidelines, prolonged use of cotrimoxazole may not be necessary for HIV-exposed but uninfected children in low-mortality, non-malarial settings with low risk for late mother-to-child transmission throug breastfeeding, Roger Shapiro told participants at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston.

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CROI 2016: More People with HIV Are Achieving Viral Suppression in U.S.

A growing proportion of people with HIV are reaching an undetectable viral load on antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a pair of studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston. Despite this improvement, however, a substantial number of people are still not achieving viral suppression, putting them at risk for disease progression and onward transmission.

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CROI 2016: Tailored Support Encourages Black Gay Men to Stay on PrEP

Providing culturally tailored counseling and support programs for black men who have sex with men can increase their likelihood of maintaining adherence to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention, helping to address a key public health gap in the U.S., according to findings from the HPTN 073 study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston.

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CROI 2016: Antidepressant Improves HIV-Related Cognitive Impairment

The SSRI antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil) was associated with a modest improvement in cognitive function and reduced central nervous system inflammation among people with HIV-related neurocognitive disorder, but the antifungal drug fluconazole showed no apparent benefit even though it reduced oxidative stress, according to a study presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) last month in Boston.

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CROI 2016: Removing Clinic Barriers to Rapid ART in Uganda Enables 70% to Start on Same Day

Making point-of-care CD4 T-cell count diagnostics available, revising adherence counseling requirements, and giving extra training to healthcare workers can almost quadruple the number of patients who begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) on the day that they are eligible, Gideon Amanyire of Makerere University reported at the at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston. The package of health system reforms was provided to a typical "real world" group of clinics in Uganda and was embedded in everyday practice, suggesting that the same intervention could have a similar impact elsewhere.

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England's PrEP Policy in Disarray After National Health Service Turnaround

Activists, individuals at risk of HIV, and clinicians have reacted with anger to an official U-turn on provision of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in England, where National Health Service (NHS) officials have refused to allow a draft policy on PrEP to go forward for further consideration. "By denying full availability of PrEP we are failing those who are at risk of HIV," commented Ian Green of Terrence Higgins Trust, a leading U.K. HIV/AIDS organization. "PrEP has already been approved in the U.S., Kenya, South Africa, Israel, Canada, and France. And yet, our own government refuses to take responsibility for PrEP."

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March 10 Is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Thursday, March 10, is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), an annual opportunity to call attention to the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls worldwide. This year's theme is "The Best Defense Is a Good Offense."

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CROI 2016: Women and African Americans with HIV Have a Higher Risk of Stroke

The risk of stroke among people living with HIV is highest among people with unsuppressed viral load, and among women and African Americans, according to findings presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston.

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Updated U.S. Guidelines for Antiretroviral Treatment of Children with HIV

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has updated its Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Pediatric HIV Infection. Reflecting recent data from the START and PENPACT1 trials, the guidelines now recommend that all children with HIV start antiretroviral therapy (ART) regardless of CD4 T-cell count, viral load, or clinical symptoms.

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NIAID To Fund Follow-Up Study of Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, will support an open-label continuation study of the dapivirine vaginal ring that demonstrated modest protection against HIV infection, especially among older women, in 2 clinical trials in Africa, as reported at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston.

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CROI 2016: Transgender People at High Risk for HIV, But Little Is Known About Prevention and Treatment

Transgender women have among the highest rates of HIV infection, but little is known about HIV prevalence among trans men, Tonia Poteat from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in a plenary lecture on transgender health and HIV at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)in Boston -- the first ever on this population at CROI. A growing number of studies and prevention and treatment programs are addressing transgender populations, but more research is needed.

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CROI 2016: Combination Inhibitor BMS-986197 Demonstrates Good Anti-HIV Activity in Early Study

A long-acting bioengineered "combinectin" molecule with a triple mechanism of action demonstrated potent antiviral activity and worked against HIV that developed resistance to any of the 3 separate mechanisms in a laboratory study, and lowered viral load in humanized mice, according to research presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston.

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CROI 2016: HIV-Related Factors Increase Risk of Stroke

HIV-related risk factors seem to increase the risk of stroke -- the sudden death of brain cells due to a rupture or obstruction of blood vessels in the brain -- according to ongoing research in a growing number of large epidemiological cohort studies. Recent data from 5 of these were presented during the first-ever poster discussion session on stroke at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), which took place last month in Boston.

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CROI 2016: High STI Rates Among Gay Men on PrEP Supports More Frequent Monitoring

Participants taking tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) continued to have high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2 U.S. PrEP demonstration projects, according to a pair of reports at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston. Semi-annual STI testing missed many cases, leading researchers to suggest that gay men on PrEP could benefit from screening every 3 months.

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CROI 2016: START Study Shows People Starting HIV Treatment Earlier Have Better Quality of Life

Rather than treatment side effects having a negative impact on people’s quality of life when they start HIV treatment, data from the large randomized START study show a modest but statistically significant improvement in quality of life, according to a presentation at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston.

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CROI 2016: Rapid Rise in PrEP Awareness in U.S. Gay Men, But Only 5% Have Used PrEP

Large internet surveys of American gay men show that the proportion who have heard of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) jumped from 45% in 2012 to 68% in 2015, with around half of men willing to consider using PrEP -- but that actual usage is far lower and remains concentrated in a few key urban areas where public health authorities have facilitated its uptake, according to data presented at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)in Boston.

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CROI 2016: High Levels of Chemsex and Slamsex Seen Among HIV+ Men at U.K. HIV Clinics

A survey of HIV-positive clients attending 30 HIV clinics in England and Wales, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016)last month in Boston, has found that nearly a third (29%) of gay male patients reported engaging in "chemsex" (defined by the researchers as "the use of drugs to increase disinhibition and arousal") in the past year and that 1 in 10 reported "slamsex" (injecting or being injected with such drugs). Figures were higher for some subgroups: 37% of Londoners reported chemsex and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) reported slamsex.

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