“Sniffing out” TB, next steps in finding an AIDS cure, and more…

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The following “What We’re Reading” collection is a compilation of recent articles making headlines in HIV and TB news.

TB Detector Would Ferret out Disease Faster: This article from the Globe and Mail describes a tuberculosis detection device currently in development by researchers in India that works much like a Breathalyzer. The envisioned “electronic nose” would be a battery-operated, handheld device that could potentially work to identify other conditions – such as lung cancer and pneumonia – that have “unique breath signatures.” The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada have donated $950,000 to the product’s development.

MSM living in hostile social environments more likely to have negative feelings about sexuality, less likely to test for HIV: A study of men who have sex with men (MSM) across Europe, perhaps the largest international study of the sexual health of this population, has found “clear links between the social environment men live in and their own internal acceptance of their sexuality… [and] men with ‘internalized homonegativity’ were much less likely to test for HIV,” according to an article from AIDSMap.  The data is from an internet-based questionnaire  – the European MSM Internet Sex Survey –which received more than 174,200 valid responses.

The goal of an AIDS-free generation: The time to invest in science is now: Published in “The Hill’s Congress Blog” on Wednesday, this op-ed by AVAC Exexutive Director Mitchell Warren discusses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech to the National Institutes of Health in November calling for an AIDS-free generation. He names the three critical research priorities as he sees them that will pave the way ending AIDS: “First, we need real-world research to understand how best to use additional HIV prevention tools that were recently found effective in clinical trials, including topical microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.  Second, we need to sustain the search for a vaccine to prevent HIV, especially now that the vaccine field is being re-energized by promising new scientific advances.  Third, we need to pursue the increasingly real possibility of developing a functional cure for HIV infection. It is critical to sustain investments in research and development for additional powerful prevention tools,” according to the op-ed.

Report Examines Donor Funding for Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation takes a look at donor funding from 2002 through 2009 for a variety of health issue areas, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, family planning, basic health and other areas. The report explores the enormous expansion in funding for health in low and middle-income countries in this time frame and what has happened since the beginning of the worldwide economic decline in 2008.

The HIV Cure-Related Clinical Research Workshop Report: In April four HIV research advocacy organizations held a meeting to discuss the latest in HIV cure clinical research, bringing together researchers, scientists, regulators and community advocates. This report identifies the critical questions that remain unanswered in the field and outlines next steps to “hasten progress of cure-related research.” The report addresses the following questions:

  • If HIV eradication is the goal, how can this be proved when the best currently available tests may still miss the tiny residual amount of the virus that can bring the infection roaring back to life when antiretroviral drugs are withdrawn?
  • If treatment interruptions are necessary, how can they be conducted safely in research participants when prevailing data suggest that even relatively short treatment interruptions can be harmful for some?
  • If immune control of the virus is the objective, what kinds of changes in the immune system and inflammatory markers will tell us we are on the right track? and
  • If early trials require participants to take greater risks with little hope of gain, how can we ensure that studies are ethical and guarantee that those taking the risks are fully informed?
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