In our new weekly series Closer to the Cure: This Week in HIV News we’ll share with you some of the most groundbreaking and interesting news in HIV research. As researchers zero-in on a solution to this worldwide epidemic, we will be keeping up with the latest, buzz-worthy topics you need to know about.
Here is what’s new this week:
Research published to Science Translational Medicine raises new hopes for development of a long-acting PrEP drug that would guard against HIV infection during both anal and vaginal intercourse.
A monthly injection of an experimental anti-retroviral drug protected female monkeys from vaginnal infection, according to two studies. The investigational new drug, GSK744, is being developed by the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmothKline and if proven safe and effective in human clinical trials, could usher in a new way for PrEP delivery similar to long-acting contraceptives.
For women in low and middle-income nations where females suffer the majority of HIV infections, researchers say that the results prove promising. The experimental drug would be able to be administered as a monthly shot if approved. Further research is ongoing.
In the January 2015 issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, a comprehensive collection of articles describing the current status of the global effort towards finding a cure for HIV/AIDS is available for researches and the public alike.
The greatest challenge for finding a cure has been HIV latency, in which reservoir of the virus persist and hide from anti-HIV drugs despite effective antiretroviral therapy. Doctors and university officials document strategies to eradicate latent viral reservoirs in the special edition issue.
On January 13th, Walgreens announced the launch of Well Beyond HIV, a national campaign highlighting people who have aged well beyond their HIV diagnosis. The focal point of the campaign is a traveling art exhibit that will provide a look into the lives of people ages 50 and over who are living with HIV.
The exhibit will make its first stop in Miami on January 17th and will provide information and resources for those living with the virus. The campaign is designed to inspire dialogue, eliminate stigmas and amplify the voices, faces and stories of those over 50 living with HIV.
A large meta-analysis of 12 studies in sub-Saharan Africa found that women who used the contraceptive Depo-Provera had a moderately increased risk of becoming infected with HIV. The birth control, administered as a shot every month, was found to increase risk of acquiring HIV by 40 percent when compared to women using non-hormonal methods and those not practicing birth control.
The findings were published January 8th in The Lancet Infectious Diseases and include data from 39,500 women. Researchers stated that a possible risk factor could be that birth control with higher levels of progestin are more likely to alter the vaginal lining or local immunity, increasing the risk for HIV infection. Researchers emphasized that the study did not examine the physiological effects of different contraceptive methods and more research is needed.
Rapid-result HIV testing sessions have gained popularity in Victoria, Australia. The testing trial, which was was given to gay and bisexual men for the first time at the Midsumma Festival parade, was administered by a team of trained gay men from Pronto (Victoria’s rapid HIV testing program). The free and confidential HIV screening test is essentially a finger prick test that provides instant results. The “pop-up” is said to take between 10 and 30 minutes. Jason Asselin, research assistant at Burnet Institute said having gay peers administer the test rather than strangers enabled people to feel more comfortable about the process.
In recent months, Pronto has provided pop-up testing at various gay bars. The ease of testing promoted dialogue within the gay community, prompting many to turn to social media to document their happenings.
The average time-span in which gay men get tested for HIV is currently once a year, but Pronto’s goal is to encourage gay men to get tested every three months. The trial in Victoria will end this August. Visit STDcheck.com to get affordable HIV testing today.
Find any of these topics thought-provoking? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think about this week’s news in the world of HIV.