What We’re Reading: Vienna Edition

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In the fight against AIDS, last week was dizzying – and vitally important.  The International AIDS Conference in Vienna prompted the release of studies and data that some say could revolutionize the world’s prevention efforts. Much talked about is a vaginal gel containing tenofovir, which proved successful in preventing HIV in women. This is the first such prevention tool that allows women to protect themselves from the virus.

Other studies demonstrated the effectiveness of early HIV treatment and male circumcision in preventing the epidemic’s spread.

I’ve compiled here some of the studies released this week around the Conference. It is by no means a comprehensive list, but I hope you’ll find it helpful.

If any other pieces seem noteworthy to you (and I’m sure there will be quite a few that do), please add them in the comments section!

  • The number of HIV-positive people on ARV treatment this year went up from 4 million to 5.2 million – a 25% increase. This according to the World Health Organization.
  • The World Health Organization also revised its antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents: Recommendations for a public health approach, now encouraging earlier diagnosis and antiretroviral treatment, and more strategic laboratory monitoring. Full text of the recommendations is available here.
  • Television shows can have an impact on young people’s behavior. In a Johns Hopkins study, shows reaching 96% of youth in the top 50 HIV/AIDS impacted countries did have a positive effect on young people’s attitudes and behavior towards HIV and AIDS. The shows were designed to be both compelling and integrated with HIV prevention and education messages.
  • A study in Tanzania found that paying teenagers to remain free of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases could cut the rate of HIV transmission.
  • Research out of Brazil, the first developing country providing universal access to ART, found that this expanded access to treatment was responsible for declining mortality rates related to HIV.
  • One study found that in people with advanced HIV and TB, starting ART treatment just two weeks after beginning TB therapy improves survival rates significantly.
  • Homosexual men in China are 45 times more likely to become HIV positive than heterosexual Chinese men. A study from the United Nations finds a combination of discriminatory laws and human rights violations were a major contributor to the high rates among gay men.
  • Similarly, HIV/ADS stigma and discrimination is driving HIV transmission in India and South Asia, particularly among marginalized groups such as sex workers and injection drug users. This is due to a “widespread failure to prevent stigma and discrimination toward people living with AIDS, or at high risk of contracting the virus,” according to a new report from the World Bank.
  • The “test and treat” strategy for preventing HIV will be tested on a large scale in South Africa over the next five years. The study will provide half of the 40,000 participants with HIV treatment immediately following diagnosis, and half with treatment only after their CD4 count falls below a certain level.

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