The New York Times examines the “growing drug addiction problem” in Afghanistan, where, in 2010, about 900,000 people, or seven percent of the adult population, were using drugs, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The newspaper notes “a recent report by the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with Johns Hopkins University … found HIV present in about seven percent of drug users, double the figure just three years ago, said Dr. Fahim Paigham, who until recently directed the Ministry of Public Health’s AIDS control program.”
“Iranian HIV doctor Arash Alaei has been released from jail in Tehran after spending more than three years behind bars for allegedly conspiring against the regime, his U.S.-based brother said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 8/29).
Though the Asia-Pacific region “has seen impressive gains” in the fight against HIV/AIDS “– including a 20 percent drop in new HIV infections since 2001 and a three-fold increase in access to antiretroviral therapy since 2006 — progress is threatened by an inadequate focus on key populations at higher risk of HIV infection and insufficient funding from both domestic and international sources,” according to a UNAIDS report (.pdf) released on Thursday at the 2011 International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Busan, South Korea, a UNAIDS press release states (8/26).
South African HIV Cases Fall Slightly To 5.4M, But New Infections Continue To Outpace Prevention Efforts
“The number of people living with HIV in South Africa has dropped slightly to 5.38 million, and the number of AIDS deaths is finally starting to fall, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said Thursday … in a written reply to a question from parliament, where lawmakers had asked for an update on the success of the anti-AIDS fight,” Agence France-Presse reports. “South Africa has more HIV infections than any country in the world, previously estimated at 5.6 million by the United Nations in its global report on HIV in 2009, released late last year,” the news agency writes (8/25).
Following an August 19 meeting convened by the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research to explore recent findings showing the success of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), “conference participants urged healthcare providers and the public to await further guidance from the CDC and FDA before considering using PrEP. However, if providers believe that initiating…
IRIN reports on the difficulties some people living with HIV in Kenya face in accessing food. “Partly because of a prolonged dry spell, some 3.6 million Kenyans need emergency food assistance,” and, while there is food aid available in Kenya, poor roads prevent the aid from reaching some villages, according to IRIN.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which “froze disbursements of its AIDS grant to China in November and all other grants in May over suspected misuse of the money and the government’s reluctance to involve community groups, … said Tuesday that it was lifting the freeze on financing to ensure that AIDS work in China continued while it worked with government officials, representatives from United Nations agencies and private groups to resolve the dispute,” the Associated Press reports.
With “[l]ooming budget cuts for FY2012 and recent reports about the decline in AIDS funding from the USG in FY2010 relative to FY2009 … now, more than ever, PEPFAR needs to better demonstrate the effectiveness and value of its programs,” Nandini Oomman, director of the HIV/AIDS Monitor at the Center…
NPR’s health blog “Shots” interviewed Laith Abu-Raddad of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, co-author of a recent study published in PLoS Medicine that showed “[m]ore than five percent of men who have sex with men are infected by HIV in” the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), about “the challenges of researching such a taboo topic.” Abu-Raddad discusses his motivations for pursuing the study, data collection challenges and surprises in the data, the blog notes (Thrasybule, 8/19).
A team of researchers has “identified 17 potent antibodies whose discovery opened up valuable pathways in the search for an AIDS vaccine,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/17). The researchers “at and associated with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), the Scripps Research Institute, the biotechnology company Theraclone Sciences and Monogram Biosciences Inc., a LabCorp company, report in the current issue of Nature” that the antibodies are “capable of neutralizing a broad spectrum of variants of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,” according to a joint press release (8/17).