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Kenya National AIDS Program Considering Mandatory HIV Testing

VOA News examines how Kenya’s National Aids Control Council and STI Control Program (NASCOP) is considering proposing mandatory HIV testing for adults and children who seek medical care for other conditions, noting that some AIDS organizations are expressing ethical concerns because of continuing stigma and discrimination. For now, “fears of mandatory testing in Kenya are premature, as Kenyan law currently bans such practices,” the news service writes (Onyiego, 9/30).

Time To Increase Efforts Against HIV/AIDS, TB

In a Huffington Post opinion piece, Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, asks whether President Barack Obama will “heed Archbishop [Desmond] Tutu’s call to action” in a recent Washington Post opinion piece “and do his part to end AIDS.” She says, “While campaigning, President Obama promised to expand PEPFAR ‘by $1 billion a year in new money over the next five years’ and provide $50 billion by 2013 to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide. We are not on track to see even those promises become reality. We are not on track for the leadership to change the course of HIV and AIDS that Tutu has called for.”

Maintaining Commitment Amid Promising Scientific Advances Is Necessary To Make AIDS Vaccine A Reality

In this Huffington Post opinion piece, Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, examines the need for continued attention and funding for additional research for an AIDS vaccine, highlighting advancements presented at the AIDS Vaccine 2011 conference in Bangkok, Thailand earlier this month. He writes, “We don’t yet have a blueprint for an effective vaccine to roll-out. But, as presented this week in Bangkok, the complex success of the RV144 analysis, combined with a flurry of advances in understanding the development of broadly-neutralizing antibodies against HIV, show that the science of an AIDS vaccine is vibrant and vital. Now is exactly the time to maintain commitment.”

Microbicide Trials Network Stops Tenofovir Arm Of Study After Findings Show Drug Less Effective Than Anticipated

“The Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), which is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, [on Wednesday] announced that it decided to stop one arm of a study involving more than 5,000 women in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda” after “an interim review of the ongoing trial by an independent monitoring board … found that the drug tenofovir when used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) had less effect in protecting women than anticipated,” Science Magazine’s “Science Insider” blog reports. “Although the board did not offer any specifics on how many women became infected on the drug versus placebo, they said continuing with the tenofovir arm was ‘futile’ as it would not yield meaningful results,” the blog writes.

Adult Male Circumcision Not A Cost Effective Anti-HIV Tactic, Panel Of Economists Says

A panel of economists commissioned by the Copenhagen Consensus Centre who “conducted a first-ever cost-benefit analysis of the top AIDS-fighting approaches by comparing the costs of prevention and treatment options per lives saved … said Wednesday that adult male circumcision, a global priority for preventing HIV infection, is not nearly as cost-effective as other methods of prevention,” USA Today reports. “The World Bank and the U.S. State Department support a major push for adult male circumcision,” however the panel said that “more cost-effective ways to prevent the spread of the disease are an HIV vaccine, infant male circumcision, preventing mother-to-child transmission of the disease and making blood transfusions safe,” the newspaper writes.

Small Phase I Trial Shows HIV Vaccine Candidate Is Most Powerful To Date

Researchers at the Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council (CSIC) have successfully completed a small Phase I human clinical trial of an HIV vaccine candidate that granted 90 percent of 30 study participants an immunological response against the virus, Gizmag reports. “The MVA-B vaccine draws on the natural capabilities of the human immune system and ‘has proven to be as powerful as any other vaccine currently being studied, or even more,’ says Mariano Esteban, head researcher from CSIC’s National Biotech Centre,” the magazine writes (Borgobello, 9/28).

Thanks From Global Fund Executive Director Kazatchkine

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[a]long with our partners, both donors and implementers, [is] changing the story of scores of nations that were once devastated by three killer diseases — diseases which seemed invincible,” Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece, adding “we are now saving more than one million lives every year.”

Study Sheds Light On When To Start Antiretroviral Therapy

Findings from a study published in the current issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, when “taken together with other studies published over the last few years,” show that beginning people living with HIV on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) when their CD4 cell count is between 350 and 500…

'Urgent Action' Needed To Prevent Resistance To Antiretroviral Therapy

“The clear pattern of increasing antiretroviral resistance in lower-income settings must be considered in the context of the worldwide HIV-control agenda,” especially because “the increasing rates of antiretroviral resistance in low-income settings represent a potential threat to the emerging treatment-as-prevention strategy,” Evan Wood and Julio Montaner of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS write in a Lancet Infectious Diseases opinion piece, adding, “Urgent action is needed.” They describe steps to help lower the threat of resistance, including deploying proven preventive strategies, “early and sustained” highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to prevent vertical transmission, and programs to provide HAART to 15 million people worldwide by 2015.