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CD4 Quick Test Helps Increase Number Of Patients Who Return For HIV Test Results

A new quick test to determine the CD4 levels of individuals who test positive for HIV “resulted in a substantial increase” in the percentage of people returning to a clinic get those results, according to a study conducted in Mozambique and published last week in the Lancet, the New York Times reports. “Before quick testing was available, 42 percent of infected patients returned to learn their CD4 count at a subsequent visit. After point-of-care testing began, 78 percent of infected patients were evaluated — that is, almost twice as many infected people took this important first step toward drug treatment,” the newspaper writes (Bakalar, 10/3).

Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows

“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.

Addressing High-Risk Groups, Couples Counseling In HIV Prevention

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s “Global Health Policy” blog, Mead Over, a senior fellow at the center, follows up on a post last week in which he wrote that a panel of senior economists commissioned by the Rush Foundation was to address the question of how to…

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).