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Studies Show Success, Highlight Challenges Of PrEP Strategy

The results of three clinical trials published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine show that the antiretroviral drug Truvada, a combination of tenofovir and emtracitabine, can be “highly effective at preventing infection in HIV-free individuals — as long as those individuals take the drug every day as prescribed,” CNN’s “The Chart” reports (7/11). The strategy of using antiretrovirals to prevent HIV among healthy people at risk of contracting the virus is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, USA Today notes. “Two studies from Africa in heterosexual patients found that the drugs reduced the rate of HIV infection by 62 percent to 75 percent, a success rate that’s comparable to results from studies of gay men,” the newspaper writes, adding, “A third study in African women at high risk of infection, however, was ended early after researchers saw the drugs had no effect on HIV rates, largely because fewer than 40 percent of study participants took their pills as instructed” (Szabo, 7/11).

International AIDS Conference Must Focus On Combination Prevention Strategies To Fight AIDS Among Women

Highlighting statistics showing how HIV affects more women than men worldwide, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), writes in a Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, “The XIX International AIDS Conference is coming to Washington, D.C., in two weeks and it must be different from its predecessors for one reason: HIV is now a woman’s plague.” She continues, “Our HIV policies and interventions have to respond accordingly or we will never create the AIDS-free generation that [Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have committed to build — where vertical transmission of HIV from a woman to her child is significantly reduced, where HIV-free girls and boys grow up with all the prevention options they need, and those who do acquire HIV have access to treatment.”

PEPFAR Recommends Integrating TB Screening Into Maternal, Child Health Programs

PEPFAR “is recommending improvements to efforts to detect [tuberculosis (TB)] in settings offering health services to pregnant women, women with HIV, newborns, and children,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The blog outlines the recommendations of the PMTCT/Pediatric HIV Technical Working Group, which said the decision to produce guidelines for integrating TB screening into maternal and child HIV programs was based on “[r]ecent studies [that] have shown that HIV-infected pregnant women are at increased risk of transmitting both TB and HIV to their infants” (Barton, 7/11).

Global Fund Investigation Finds Recipient Organization In Bangladesh 'Misappropriated' $1.89M In Grant Funds

“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Diseases is eyeing the recovery of some $1.89 million ‘misappropriated’ grant funds following an investigative report [.pdf] on one of its sub-recipients in Bangladesh,” the Devex “Development Newswire” blog reports. “The money covers 52 percent of the total amount disbursed to nongovernmental organization Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra [PMKU] under the fund’s 2004-2009 HIV and AIDS program,” the blog writes, adding, “The [non-governmental organization (NGO)] ‘fabricated’ documents, including bank statements, accounting journals, invoices and copies of checks that were never issued, according to the report published online Tuesday.”

GlobalPost Examines Progress Against AIDS In Zimbabwe

GlobalPost examines efforts to combat AIDS in Zimbabwe as part of its “AIDS Turning Point” series. The news service writes that “what makes the case of Zimbabwe so curious — and even confounding to many outside observers — is that this country found success even though it was largely cut out of the big spending by PEPFAR’s list of 15 so-called ‘focus countries.'” GlobalPost continues, “Instead, Zimbabwe relies on its own well-mapped network of community health workers … who fan out daily across the country to make sure the country’s AIDS patients receive care.”

IAS Announces Winners Of Awards Recognizing HIV Researchers To Be Presented During AIDS 2012

“The International AIDS Society (IAS) [on Wednesday] announced nine winners of four prestigious scientific awards to be presented during the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) to be held in Washington, D.C., 22–27 July,” an IAS press release (.pdf) states. “Presented by the IAS and its partners, these awards recognize scientists conducting high quality HIV research around the world,” the press release notes and provides a link to a chart (.pdf) summarizing the award winners (7/11).

IAS Announces 'Washington, D.C. Declaration' Calling For Global Support To End AIDS Epidemic

“A declaration calling for global support to end the AIDS epidemic was announced [Tuesday] by the International AIDS Society (IAS) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF),” an IAS press release (.pdf) reports. “The ‘Washington, D.C. Declaration,’ which seeks to build broad support for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic through a nine-point action plan, will be the official declaration of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012),” which “will take place in Washington, D.C., from 22 to 27 July 2012” (7/10).

PLoS Medicine Papers Examine HIV Treatment As Prevention

Early treatment with antiretroviral medication can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission to an uninfected sexual partner, “[b]ut many logistical hurdles stand in the way of making this strategy feasible, affordable and effective, according to experts writing in Tuesday’s edition of the journal PLoS Medicine,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Though Science magazine hailed the finding as “breakthrough of the year” in 2011, “[e]xperts are now divided about whether the treatment-as-prevention approach can essentially halt the AIDS epidemic,” the newspaper writes (Loury, 7/11). The PLoS Medicine collection, which includes nine reviews and one research article, “provide insights into the factors which will support evidence-based decision-making in HIV prevention, with a focus on the use of antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV transmission,” according to the collection’s homepage (7/10).

PEPFAR Strengthens AIDS Programs, Broader Health Care Systems, Goosby Says

Describing PEPFAR as “a targeted approach on a large-scale and with accountability for results,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Tuesday said the program has done more than fight HIV/AIDS, having had a “broader transformational impact … on the health sector” in many countries, VOA News reports (De Capua, 7/10). Goosby delivered the keynote address at a Health Affairs briefing titled, “Assessing The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief: Past Achievements And Future Prospects For PEPFAR,” according to a State Department video of his remarks (7/10). The July 2012 issue of Health Affairs “examines the origins of [PEPFAR]; the lessons learned from implementation; the successes achieved in terms of human health and well-being; and the opportunities that now exist to lay the groundwork for an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” the Health Affairs Blog states (Fleming, 7/10).

AIDS 2012 Conference Comes At A 'Moment Of Hope'

“A tremendous amount of attention will be focused on AIDS over the next six weeks — and that’s a great thing,” as the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) convenes in Washington, D.C., from July 22 to 27, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in an opinion piece in The Hill. “This is a moment of hope,” he adds, continuing, “The world has seen a fundamental transformation in the global AIDS outlook over the past decade, with the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria playing leading roles.”

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