Simpler treatment option for latent TB, tinkering with tenofovir to lower drug costs, and more…

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The following is a compilation of recent articles and news pieces making headlines in HIV/TB and global health.

Research offers simpler, effective treatment option for latent TB infection: New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that a supervised, three-month regimen of rifampentine and isoniazid for the treatment of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection is just as effective as the self-administered, daily isoniazid treatment that lasts for nine months. The multi-country trial, one of the largest U.S. government clinical trials on TB to date, found the once-weekly preventive TB treatment was also completed by more participants (82 percent) than the standard regimen (69 percent).

Researchers Manipulate Drug’s Chemistry in Bid to Lower Treatment Cost: In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, reporter Mark Schoofs explores a new initiative to “tinker” with the formulation of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir to decrease costs associated with its production, and therefore allow more people in low-resource countries to access treatment. The leader of this new research push is the Clinton Health Access Initiative, with investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. government. “The chasm between the need for the drugs and the available funding has spurred wide-ranging efforts to bring down the cost of antiretrovirals, from persuading drug makers to share patents of antiretrovirals to conducting trials using lower doses of existing drugs.”

Getting Ahead of the Wave –  Lessons for the Next Decade of the AIDS Response: A new report issued by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)  highlights important lessons learned after a decade of offering antiretroviral therapy in resource-poor settings – treating people earlier, integrating HIV treatment into primary care, task shifting and the like, while flagging the immediate and long-term challenges to securing the goal of universal access to life saving HIV treatment.  One of the more formidable challenges is dwindling donor support.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) Calls for Universal Treatment Goal: Rep. Lee joined with 87 of her Congressional colleagues to introduce HR 1880 last week, a bill requiring, “on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the first reported cases of AIDS, reporting on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and on the status of international progress towards achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, and for other purposes.” Lee introduced the bill to reinforce America’s commitment to combating HIV/AIDS both at home and abroad.

Reflections on 30 Years of AIDS: The latest edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases offers a look back on the past 30 years, since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, from a global viewpoint by three prominent health figures: Kevin DeCock, MD, director of the Center for Global Health at the CDC; Associate Director of Science at the CDC Harold Jaffe, MD; and Dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University James Curran, MD, MPH. “This 30th anniversary year of the first description of AIDS is also the 15th anniversary of the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART),” the article states. “Henceforth, AIDS will have been a treatable condition longer than it was the inevitably fatal disease first recognized.”

An Economic Engine – NIH Research, Employment, and the Future of the Medical Innovation Sector: Healthwatch, The Hill’s healthcare blog, showcased a new report by the group United for Medical Research emphasizing the “economic reach of [National Institutes of Health (NIH)] research as federal agencies and their advocates approach another round of budget-cutting from Congress.”  According to the report, NIH investment in 2010 led to the creation of nearly 500,000 “quality” jobs, produced more than $68 billion in new economic activity across the country, and spurred job growth of more than 10,000 jobs in 16 states.

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