Men lagging behind women on HIV treatment rolls, viral load monitoring gets scaled up . . . we’re reading about catching up to get ahead in a World AIDS Day MMWR, and more

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WADMMWRLower levels of antiretroviral therapy enrollment among men with HIV compared with women — The latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report includes this examination of  765,087 HIV treatment records from 12 countries, between 2002-2013, in what it says is the most comprehensive look  yet at disparity between the numbers of men and women living with HIV, and the numbers of each gender receiving antiretroviral treatment. The study’s authors found the rates of women living with HIV receiving treatment greatly higher than the rates of men receiving needed HIV treatment in all but one country — and in seven of the countries the treatment divide appears to be increasing.  The exception is Vietnam, where, possibly, efforts to reach a predominately male population of people who inject drugs have paid off in equity. The authors urge efforts to reach and link more men in care, efforts that U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx has noted would be furthered by making immediate treatment upon HIV diagnoses widely available and would lower rates of new infections among women.

Scale-up of HIV Viral Load Monitoring — The MMWR also includes a look at efforts to increase use of viral load testing to monitor the effectiveness of HIV treatment in seven sub-Saharan African countries. It examines obstacles that include affordable pricing, supply chain management, and needs for more trained staff, and concludes the testing that is critical to averting illnesses as a result of HIV and  transmission of the virus can be made available in resource-limited settings.

We need new resolve to end AIDS – Also from Atlanta, a reminder that the division between the global HIV pandemic and a domestic HIV epidemic is a false dichotomy. The tools to end AIDS, and to end HIV as a public health threat, in high-income countries, and low-income countries, in cities and remote rural towns, exist; but they include equity, commitment and following the evidence. The question, as Dr. Carlos del Rio,chairman of the HIV Medicine Association, and chairman of the Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health, puts it in this World AIDS Day opinion column, is “do we have the will to do it?”


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