AIDS Treatment News logo      

November 29, 2010

When the Rubber Hits the Road: Paying for Expanded HIV Testing and Care

HIV/AIDS Clinical Care: "Doubling the rate of HIV testing among U.S. adults over the next 5 years would lead to an additional 46,000 new diagnoses but would cost an additional $2.7 billion.

"In 2006, the CDC recommended expanding HIV testing in the U.S., but the recommendation was not accompanied by any increases in federal funding for testing or subsequent care. Now, researchers have used a computer simulation model to explore how expanded testing and treatment would affect U.S. government budgets over the next 5 years."

[Philadelphia] Free buses to DC for World AIDS Day



Join ACT UP and our allies in DC on World AIDS Day (December 1st) as we call on President obama to keep the promise he made to ensure everyone with HIV has access to treatment.

Wednesday, December 1st
Free buses leave from Broad & Walnut at 7:30am.
Lunch will be provided, and tokens will be available for those who need them.
RSVP not required, but encouraged, to or 215-386-1981
More info:


Why? There are over 4,000 people with HIV in the US who are forced onto waiting lists for AIDS drugs. Countless others can’t even get on the waiting list, because the are too “rich” or because their insurance companies are denying them care. Around the world, 10 million people were promised medication, but they do not have access. All of these people will die unless President Obama keeps his promise to fund AIDS treatment at home and abroad."

Gilead asks FDA to approve new HIV drug combo - BusinessWeek

BusinessWeek: [Nov. 23] "Drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. said Tuesday it asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve a single pill combination of its HIV treatment Truvada and Tibotec Pharmaceuticals' rilpivirine.

"The companies have been working together to develop the combination since July of 2009."

Isentress Once-Daily Is Less Effective Than Twice-Daily

AIDSmeds: "Fewer people who took the integrase inhibitor Isentress (raltegravir) once-daily were able to control their HIV levels compared with people who took the drug twice-daily, as is currently recommended, according to a release from the drug’s maker Merck.

"Isentress was approved in 2007 to treat people with HIV resistant to most other antiretroviral drugs and in 2009 to treat people who were new to therapy. Given how quickly the body processes and eliminates Isentress, it was initially studied and approved as a twice-daily dose."

AIDS cure article in Philadelphia Gay News

AIDS cure article in Philadelphia Gay News

"The AIDS Policy Project, headquartered in Philadelphia and San Francisco, is taking a rarely employed approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, pressing not for enhanced prevention and treatment methods but for a more final solution: a cure.

Kate Krauss, founder and executive director of the project, said she and other staffers have worked both in the prevention and treatment arenas and, while both are crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS, researchers need to start looking further into the future.

"'We know that prevention is not going to save the lives of the 33 million people who have AIDS now,' she said. 'And treatment is very different when it comes to different countries: There are about 15 million people who need treatment immediately, but only about 36 percent are actually receiving it. The number of people with AIDS is increasing and most don’t have access to treatment, so they’re just dying.'"

Dr. Collins, Please increase the AIDS cure budget to $240 million.

AIDS Policy Project petition: "I am writing to ask you to make a cure for AIDS a greater funding priority at the NIH. We truly applaud the NIH's innovative AIDS cure programs, but they are underpowered because they are underfunded."

Comment: For most impact, sign on NOW for petition delivery on World AIDS Day.

What's All the Noise About PrEP For?

Civil Society Partnerships Advisor, UNAIDS, blogging in POZ: "I think we would be better off using all this air time and hype to promote the AIDS Cure Project - to call for investing in the development of collaborative research for a cure or for effective vaccines or microbicides.

"Even if PrEP works, no one is going to afford it; not unless the price is pennies a day; and what healthy person would want to take it for life with the horrible side effects that now exist from ARVs. Dosing the water supply with ARVs is not the answer - a cure is!!"

Presidential Memorandum--Review of Human Subjects Protection

The White House: "Recently, we discovered that the U.S. Public Health Service conducted research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 involving the intentional infection of vulnerable human populations. The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.

"I ask you, as the Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, to convene a panel to conduct, beginning in January 2011, a thorough review of human subjects protection to determine if Federal regulations and international standards adequately guard the health and well-being of participants in scientific studies supported by the Federal Government. I also request that the Commission oversee a thorough fact-finding investigation into the specifics of the U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases Inoculation Study."

November 28, 2010

Rare disease reveals new path for creating stem cells

Harvard Medical School Press Release: "FINDINGS: Researchers have found that by mimicking a rare genetic disorder in a dish, they can rewind the internal clock of a mature cell and drive it back into an adult stem-cell stage.

"RELEVANCE: Direct application for these findings is the field of tissue engineering and personalized medicine. It is conceivable that transplant patients may one day have some of their own endothelial cells extracted, reprogrammed, and then grown into the desired tissue type for implantation. Host rejection would not be an issue."

November 24, 2010

To WBAI, Pacifica: Open letter on denialist radio show

John S. James, AIDS Treatment News:"Gary Null's take-home message (often delivered as quotes from others) is that AIDS is not sexually transmitted, and not caused by HIV -- and that the mainstream view of tens of thousands of doctors, scientists, and other workers in the U.S. and around the world is a lie, a grand fraud and cruel deception, existing to scare people and keep government money flowing. Persons who believe this can easily conclude that they do not need to worry about condoms or self-control -- and that if they are diagnosed with HIV they can reject their doctors' advice and cure themselves with nutrition and lifestyle changes instead. Yes, real people do follow such advice. ...

"In 1996 good HIV/AIDS treatments started becoming available in the U.S. And some other rich countries. U.S. Government death statistics were a year or two behind due to long ne- glect of public-health infrastructure. But in San Francisco we could see what was happening much faster through the decreasing obituaries in the Bay Area Reporter(, the city's biggest circulation gay newspaper. Before the new protease inhibitors and triple-drug "cocktails," 25 or more deaths could be reported in the weekly listing, almost all gay men dying of AIDS. In one week there were 33 obituaries. As the new drugs came into use the number of obituaries went down to about four or five a week, with around half of those deaths having nothing to do with AIDS. Meanwhile, we started hearing that leading AIDS doctors were no longer having deaths in their practices.

"Note: All the obituaries published in the Bay Area Reporter have been archived by the GLBT Historical Society; see We checked the first half of 2010, and there are fewer than three obituaries per week. That's a long way from more than 20. To our knowledge there is no reason for the great drop in deaths, except that the new HIV/AIDS drugs were keeping people alive.

"But many leading denialists in California died of AIDS, even after good treatments were available, because they refused to take them. They were sincere. Some were great people. They should not have died."

Read the full letter at hrrp://

November 23, 2010

AIDS Risk Greatly Lowered by Daily Pill, Study Finds "In a development that could change the battle against AIDS, researchers have found that taking a daily antiretroviral pill greatly lowers the chances of getting infected with the fatal virus.

"In the study, published Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine [full text], researchers found that the hundreds of gay men randomly assigned to take the drugs were 44 percent less likely to get infected than the equal number assigned to take a placebo.

"But when only the men whose blood tests showed they had taken their pill faithfully every day were considered, the pill was more than 90 percent effective, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the division of the National Institutes of Health, which paid for the study along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"'That’s huge,' Dr. Fauci said. 'That says it all for me.'

"The large study, nicknamed iPrEx, included nearly 2,500 men in six countries and was coordinated by the Gladstone Institutes of the University of California, San Francisco.

"The results are the best news in the AIDS field in years, even better than this summer’s revelation that a vaginal microbicide protected 39 percent of all the women testing it and 54 percent of those who used it faithfully.

"Also, the antiretroviral pill — Truvada, a combination of two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine — is available by prescription in many countries right now, while the microbicide gel is made only in small amounts for clinical trials. ...

"Because Truvada is available now, some clinicians already prescribe it for prophylaxis, Dr. Fauci said, but whether doing so becomes official policy will depend on discussions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, medical societies and others, which could take months."

Comment, JSJ: Of course this should be prescribed -- at least for men who need it and want it to reduce their risk of getting infected with HIV.

November 22, 2010

HIV drugs interfere with blood sugar, lead to insulin resistance

Newsroom | Washington University in St. Louis: "Hruz’s lab made the discovery in mice that lacked the GLUT4 protein. When researchers gave these mice ritonavir, the drug had no effect on their glucose tolerance. However, when they gave the drug to normal mice, their blood glucose shot up very quickly, showing that the drugs impair glucose tolerance and promote insulin resistance.

“What we saw were very acute effects on insulin sensitivity that we could reverse in the mice,” Hruz says. “But when insulin resistance goes on for a long time, secondary changes develop, such as high triglycerides, and those are harder to reverse,” he says."

November 20, 2010

Discovery in how HIV thwarts the body's natural defense opens up new target for drug therapies

EurekAlert!: "Natural killer cells are major weapons in the body's immune system. They keep the body healthy by knocking off tumors and cells infected with viruses, bombarding them with tiny lethal pellets. But natural killer cells are powerless against HIV, a fact that has bedeviled science for over 20 years.

"Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have discovered the reason why.

"The study, posted online this week in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Cell Host & Microbe, marks the 'beginning of a fascinating story that will shed new light on an important but still poorly understood aspect of the interaction of HIV with natural killer cells,' according to an editorial in the journal.

"'With this information, we now have a major new target for drug therapies that could potentially stop HIV and allow the body's natural killer cells to do what they are designed to do – protect the body from this lethal virus,' said Edward Barker, PhD, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Rush University and lead author of the study."

Note: Also see

Note: Full text of original technical article,

Comment: On natural killer cells, also see

HIV-positive inmate in city denied medication, suit alleges [St. Louis, MO]: "Medical care in city jails, already the subject of wrongful-death lawsuits, was challenged again on Thursday with an ACLU claim that an HIV-positive inmate was deprived of his medications for 17 days and got only sporadic care thereafter.

"A lawsuit filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri alleges that the John Doe plaintiff was deprived of his rights at both the Justice Center downtown and the Medium Security Institution on Hall Street.

"'It's inexcusable, and it's serious,' said Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU here.
The ACLU says this case and others reflect a pattern of failures at the lockups. It made specific allegations in a 2009 report that accused the jails of inadequate medical attention, inmate abuse, falsification of reports and unsanitary conditions.

"The latest suit names the city and a contractor, Correctional Medical Services, as defendants, along with the jail superintendent, Eugene Stubblefield, and two CMS physicians, Drs. Brenda Mallard and Susan Singer."

[Condom Art Contest -- this one for Philadelphia]

Outreach @ > Home: "Condoms Work! The Philadelphia Department of Public Health, STD Control Program is sponsoring a condom art contest for its first ever, custom labeled condoms. With syphilis and gonorrhea rates in the city at outbreak proportions, it’s vitally important that you help the STD Control program enhance its current outbreak control measures to include custom labeled condoms that promote healthy condom use behavior and that are current, socially relevant, and visually interesting – making them much more likely to be requested, promoted, and used.

"The contest will officially launch on Friday, November 19, 2010 and all artwork must be submitted no later than November 28th."

Comment: There could also be national or worldwide condom-package-art contests -- with much larger monetary prizes.

Burma HIV patients face eviction

The Press Association: "Burma's government ordered more than 80 people at a shelter for patients with HIV and Aids to leave after a visit by newly-freed democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the centre's organisers said.

"Suu Kyi, released a week ago from seven years under house arrest, visited the shelter on the outskirts of Rangoon on Wednesday, promising to provide it with badly needed medicines. She also addressed a crowd of more than 600 who came to see her.

"A day after her visit, government officials told patients they would have to leave by next week or face legal action because the centre's permit was not being renewed, said Phyu Phyu Thin, a pro-democracy activist who founded the operation.

"By law, home owners must seek government permission every two weeks to allow visitors to stay overnight."

We must all build on HIV/Aids success

Times LIVE: "And there is much success to build on. Globally, more than five million people in low- and middle-income countries are on HIV treatment, and the American people support more than half of these individuals through the President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar). In addition, Pepfar programmes have helped more than 340000 babies to be born free of HIV. Millions more have benefited from HIV prevention and care programmes."

Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV

The Observer: "In a break with his traditional teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has said the use of condoms is acceptable 'in certain cases', in an extended interview to be published this week.

"After holding firm during his papacy to the Vatican's blanket ban on the use of contraceptives, Benedict's surprise comments will shock conservatives in the Catholic church while finding favour with senior Vatican figures who are pushing for a new line on the issue as HIV ravages Africa.

"The comments were made in a book-length interview with a German journalist, Peter Seewald. In the case of a male prostitute, says Benedict, using a condom to reduce the risk of HIV infection 'can be a first step in the direction of moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants'."

Note: Also see UNAIDS welcomes Pope Benedict’s support to HIV prevention.

November 19, 2010

Bionor Gains $45 Million in Value After Resuming HIV Drug Study

Bloomberg: "Bionor Pharma ASA almost quadrupled in value in Oslo trading, gaining more than $45 million, after the drugmaker said its experimental HIV vaccine unexpectedly reduced virus levels. ...

"The drugmaker last month canceled the Vacc-4x program after an early study showed patients taking the vaccine were just as likely as those receiving a placebo to have to resume antiretroviral therapy. The study was designed to see if the vaccine helped patients to stay off the therapy, which typically consists of a combination of three or more drugs.

"Further analysis of the study data showed the vaccine triggered an 'unexpected' and statistically significant drop in levels of the virus, which causes AIDS, Bionor said today. Virus levels in vaccinated patients didn’t return to pre-therapy levels, which normally happens, the company said.

"'A therapeutic HIV vaccine like Vacc-4x reducing the viral load set-point, could have significant implications for future HIV management' ..."

November 18, 2010

TODAY, in Philadelphia: Community Forum on AIDS Cure

Date: November 18, 2010
Time: 7 pm
Place: Friends Center, 15th and Cherry Streets, Center City, Philadelphia
RSVP: or tel: 510-388-7089
NOVEMBER 18, 2010, 7 PM
Friends Center at 15 th and Cherry Streets
Featured Speaker:
Jay Kostman, MD

Dr. Kostman is Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Presbyterian Medical Center. He is also the principal investigator at a community consortium of clinical research sites for HIV-infected individuals.

Did you know that a man was cured of AIDS in 2008? There’s exciting science taking place, but much needs to happen before a cure is developed for millions of people. We will talk about the state of cutting-edge science and community action that could help support the push for a cure.

RSVP encouraged but not mandatory: or tel: 215-939-7852
Researchers, health professionals, people with AIDS and their friends and allies are
encouraged to attend. Sponsored by the AIDS Policy Project and ACT UP Philadelphia.

November 16, 2010

Checklists cut surgery deaths in half, study finds

Reuters: "Using an exhaustive hospital checklist prevents errors and cuts the risk of death nearly in half for patients who come in for surgery, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The system also reduced the number of complications by one-third, they reported in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study adds to growing evidence that checklists can save trouble, lives and money in hospitals."

November 15, 2010

Congratulations, Katie - The POZ 100

POZ - December #168 : The POZ 100: 51 to 60: "Kate Krauss As executive director of the AIDS Policy Project, Krauss has nearly single-handedly resuscitated the notion of advocating for the cure for AIDS"

Unsafe in Switzerland

HIV/AIDS Clinical Care: "Comment: This study could not answer the question of whether the 'Swiss statement' has led to increased HIV transmission, but it does indicate that the statement has led to decreased condom use, at least in Switzerland. ... Although ART is a promising avenue for preventing the spread of HIV, we need data, not opinions, before we encourage serodiscordant couples to skip the condoms."

Comment by JSJ: We don't know enough to have our own opinion about the 'Swiss statement' controversy. But we note that life is never risk-free. And there can be risks on both sides -- as too many warnings may lead to people ignoring them all, including the ones that do matter.

Good Early Results for New ViiV HIV Integrase Inhibitor

POZ: "An experimental integrase inhibitor from ViiV Healthcare, currently known as S/GSK1349572 (S/GSK-572), was as effective as efavirenz (found in Sustiva and Atripla) in controlling HIV levels with fewer side effects over 24 weeks in a Phase II study. These data were presented at the 10th International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection, which was held November 7 to 11 in Glasgow and reported by the National AIDS Treatment Advocates Project (NATAP).

"Although the current crop of recommended antiretroviral (ARV) drugs is quite potent, each med has its disadvantages. Some have troublesome side effects, while others must be taken several times a day. Needless to say, there’s a demand for new treatments that can be easily joined with other drugs into a single pill that can be taken once daily and that has minimal side effects.

"One candidate with the potential to meet all of those challenges in S/GSK-572. It is a second-generation integrase inhibitor that can be taken once daily, without the need for blood-level boosting by Norvir (ritonavir), and that so far appears to have minimal side effects. What’s more, the daily dose is small enough that it should be easily combinable with other drugs into a single pill."

TB still killing 4,000 people with HIV each day, WHO reports

Aidsmap: "Tuberculosis is still killing more than 4,000 people with HIV every day worldwide, the World Health Organization reported this week. Despite progress over the past few years, more needs to be done to identify and treat HIV in TB patients, and to prevent TB in people with HIV.

"The new tuberculosis control data from the World Health Organization show that despite modest progress in 2009, the majority of people with HIV and TB worldwide are still not receiving antiretroviral therapy or isoniazid preventive therapy.

"Nevertheless the findings, released this week ahead of the 41st Union World Lung Health conference in Berlin, do show substantial improvement in rates of HIV testing among TB patients."

November 14, 2010

ADAPs with Waiting Lists


[Click on the NASTAD page to open PDF file.]

"3,811 individuals in 9 states*, as of November 11, 2010:
Florida: 2,043 individuals
Georgia: 672 individuals
Iowa: 39 individuals
Louisiana: 404 individuals**
Montana: 10 individuals
North Carolina: 66 individuals
Ohio: 328 individuals
Rhode Island: 10 individuals
South Carolina: 239 individuals"

November 11, 2010

POZ - POZ Exclusives : AIDSmeds Video: Quest for a Cure - by David Evans

POZ: "On November 3, people living with HIV and their allies gathered in West Hollywood to hear about an exciting new experiment that’s about to get under way. At the meeting, sponsored by the AIDS Policy Project, John Zaia, MD, from the City of Hope in Duarte, California, and Paula Cannon, PhD, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, explained the potential behind their new approach to curing AIDS: genetically modifying stem cells taken from people living with both HIV and lymphoma to render their immune systems resistant to HIV.If the treatment works, not only would it cure the study participants’ lymphoma, it could also cure their HIV.

"If this sounds far-fetched, it’s not. About three years ago, an enterprising German hematologist named Gero Hütter, MD, decided to do something that had never been done before. He had an HIV-positive patient who had leukemia and needed a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant. Hütter decided to look for a bone marrow donor with a unique characteristic: a genetic defect that makes people highly resistant to HIV infection. He found such a donor and then conducted the transplant. Three years later, the patient has no detectable virus and remains off of all antiretroviral therapy."

Egrifta Gets FDA Approval for HIV-Associated Lipodystrophy

POZ: "Egrifta (tesamorelin) has been approved for the treatment of HIV-associated lipodystrophy, according to a November 10 announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug, requiring once-daily injections, was approved to reduce visceral adipose tissue (VAT)— deep belly fat surrounding the liver, stomach and other abdominal organs—in people living with HIV experiencing lipodystrophy, a side effect of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy."

NIH scientists unveil mechanisms of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome

EurekAlert!: "Newly published research by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, sheds light on a poorly understood, acute illness called Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRIS) that develops in some HIV-infected individuals soon after they begin antiretroviral therapy."

Most patients in darunavir monotherapy trial stay fully suppressed

Aidsmap: "The latest data from a European trial using boosted darunavir (DRV/r) as the sole HIV drug has found no evidence of increased treatment failure or of viral loads increasing over time, even when viral loads below the usual limit of detectability were investigated with an ultrasensitive assay.

"The latest results from the MONET trial, presented at the recent Tenth Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection, contrast with an African trial using boosted lopinavir monotherapy (LPV/r) also presented which, in the absence of viral load testing, found increased rates of viral failure over time."

Mobile phone messages improve adherence and HIV control in Kenyan trial

Aidsmap: "A text message from a clinic each week resulted in better adherence and a higher level of viral load suppression among people with HIV after starting antiretroviral treatment in Kenya, a randomised controlled trial has shown.

"The results were published in the Online First section of The Lancet this week. The trial was sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

"The intervention cost around 20 cents per patient each month, and would potentially allow one nurse to monitor adherence and other issues in 1000 patients each month, the researchers calculated. ...

"Typically, the slogan "Mambo?" was sent, which is Kiswahili [Swahili] for "How are you?" The health workers used multiple recipient (bulk) messaging functions to improve efficiency. Patients in the intervention group were instructed to respond within 48 hours that either they were doing well ("Sawa") or that they had a problem ("Shida"). The clinician then called patients who said they had a problem or who failed to respond within two days."

November 9, 2010

Trials Prove Experimental Diarrhea Medication Is Effective

POZ: "A twice-daily dose of a new type of anti-diarrhea medication called crofelemer is significantly more effective than a placebo at treating chronic diarrhea in people with HIV. These data, announced November 4 by the drug’s maker, Napo Pharmaceuticals, mean that the drug could be approved by 2012."

Anti-nausea drug has anti-HIV effect too

Aidsmap: "A drug used to quell nausea caused by chemotherapy has a strong anti-HIV effect in the test-tube, and this effect is intensified if the HIV protease inhibitors saquinavir or ritonavir are also present."

Study confirms that the sooner treatment is started the better

Aidsmap: "A study presented at the Tenth International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection in Glasgow has found that patients who started antiretroviral combination therapy (cART) within the first year after diagnosis were 36% less likely to experience treatment failure, and 65% less likely to develop HIV drug resistance on treatment, than patients in general."

Effect of Antioxidants on Mitochondrial Function in HIV-1-Related Lipoatrophy: A Pilot Study

AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (October 26): "Our study showed that antioxidant supplementation may have a protective role on mitochondrial function, with limited effects on the reversal of clinical lipodystrophic abnormalities in HIV-1-infected patients."

EU deal threatens HIV drug supplies - In Depth - Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English: "Aidsmap: "A study presented at the Tenth International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection in Glasgow has found that patients who started antiretroviral combination therapy (cART) within the first year after diagnosis were 36% less likely to experience treatment failure, and 65% less likely to develop HIV drug resistance on treatment, than patients in general."

November 8, 2010

Gonsalves: AIDS activism saved my life

Yale Daily News: "AIDS activists from Yale and Harvard took on the president last week. They know — because they did their homework — that the Obama administration has decided to scale back the U.S.’ efforts to scale up AIDS drugs in Africa. They know that the president is being told by some advisers that AIDS treatment isn’t cost-effective, a rehash of the old arguments from the 1990s. They know that rather than seeing AIDS as a public health success worthy of building upon for larger goals, the White House is pitting AIDS against other worthy health priorities. They know that close to 40 deans of schools of public health and medicine and world experts in global health have sent letters to the White House objecting to this shift in policy. Even Nobel Prize-winning organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu have appealed to the president, to no avail.

"AIDS activists from Yale and Harvard did the right thing last week. As always, when activists “act up,” they’re told that they should have picked a better time and place for their protests. We were told this again and again in the 1980s and 1990s. If activists had listened to the sage advice of their contemporaries back then, I’d be dead and millions of others would be too."

November 7, 2010

EU deal threatens HIV drug supplies

Al Jazeera English: "The charity Medicins sans Frontieres (MSF) says that hidden clauses in the free trade agreeement (FTA) currently being negotiated between Europe and India will prevent the manufacture and distribution of crucial generic medicines produced in the country.

"There are dirty legal tricks being used," says Dr. Tido von Schoenangerer, who runs the MSF campaign for essential medicines. "Any person living with HIV in the developing world is facing a future scenario in which the medicines they need will be under threat."

"Meanwhile the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health body, has echoed MSF's concerns, saying that if the trade deal does indeed include clauses governing the production of cheap generic medicines, the ramifications for the public health could be serious.

"The issue hinges on a so-called 'data exclusivity' provision in the free trade agreement, which campaigners say would effectively copyright information gathered in the clinical trials that prove the effectiveness and safety of medicines.

"At present, generic manufacturers rely on the results of the original clinical trials carried out by the drug developer to get their cheap version registered. If this information were to become exclusive, Indian companies would be left without the data they need to register their drugs.

"It means companies will have to repeat the trials, which not only would be very costly, but raises ethical issues because it is basically doing research to find out something that is already known," says von Schoenangerer. ...

"The department of essential medicines of WHO has never been given a copy of the draft of the free trade agreement..."

November 6, 2010

Study offers new clues to effective HIV vaccine

Reuters: "Slight differences in five amino acids in a protein called HLA-B may explain why certain people resist the human immunodeficiency virus, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that lends new clues about how to make a vaccine to prevent AIDS.

"'For a long time, we've known that some people progress extremely rapidly when they get infected, and others can stay well for three decades and never need treatment and still look entirely well,' said Dr. Bruce Walker of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, whose study appears in the journal Science.

"'We thought we could apply new techniques from the human genome project to understand what the genetic basis was for that,' he said.

"About one in 300 people infected with HIV can suppress the virus with the immune system, keeping the virus at extremely low levels."

November 4, 2010

Discovery Raises Hope for Treating Ebola, Lassa, Marburg and Other Fast Acting Viruses

Infection Control Today: "A new research report appearing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology suggests that a purified and modified form of a simple sugar chain may stop fast-acting and deadly viruses, such as Ebola, Lassa, or Marburg viruses, in their tracks. This compound, called chlorite-oxidized oxyamylose or COAM, could be a very attractive therapeutic option because not only did this compound enhance the early-stage immune defenses in mice, but because of sugar's abundance, it is derived from easily obtainable sources."

Comment: Maybe worth looking at as an immune modulator in HIV as well?

Towards a Cure: HIV Reservoirs and Strategies to Control Them

Journal of the International AIDS Society: "The aim of the workshop, “Towards a Cure: HIV Reservoirs and Strategies to Control Them”, was to invigorate efforts to move beyond ART [antiretroviral therapies], either by eradicating the virus (sterilizing cure) or by achieving long-term remission in the absence of ongoing therapy (functional cure). The organizers placed a particular focus on encouraging young investigators to work on this critically important topic, with the secondary aim of improving the breadth and quality of scientific presentations in the biomedical and pre-clinical field at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (abstracts for the workshop were selected from submissions to the conference)."

November 2, 2010

Inflammation and mortality in HIV-infected adults: analysis of the FRAM study cohort.

JAIDS: "CONCLUSIONS: Fibrinogen and CRP [C-reactive protein] are strong and independent predictors of mortality in HIV-infected adults. Our findings suggest that even in those with relatively preserved CD4 counts >500 cells per microliter, inflammation remains an important risk factor for mortality. Further investigation should determine whether interventions to reduce inflammation might decrease mortality risk in HIV-infected individuals."

November 1, 2010

Drug experts say alcohol worse than crack or heroin

Reuters: "Alcohol is a more dangerous drug than both crack and heroin when the combined harms to the user and to others are assessed, British scientists said Monday."