What we’re reading: Treatment is prevention, TB is a priority, welcome words and more

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“This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed . . . and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner . . .” With these words the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention effectively put on the record a truth that has guided evidence-based responses and goals. In addition, as community advocates have pointed out, recognizing that truth is critical to tackling the stigma and discrimination that continue to slow progress against the epidemic. At the same time, however, this statement appeared in a CDC update that predominately highlighted that many Americans living with HIV are not accessing the care and treatment they need to maintain undetectable viral loads.

The Union welcomes the WHO’s recognition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis alongside other pathogens as priority for R&D – In reality, while the two most recent World Health Organization reports highlighting needs for research and development of new medicines to fight infections grown resistant to old medicines include tuberculosis, the list of priority pathogens released by the international health agency earlier this year still does not. The real message here is that when the world’s leading infectious disease killer, and the cause of more drug-resistance deaths than any other infection takes its greatest toll on people with the least money, vigilant advocacy remains critical to ensuring it gets the attention that it demands.

Positioning Topical HIV Prevention for the Future – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases AIDS division Director Carl Dieffenbach sums up the hopes and setbacks of efforts to develop microbicides against HIV, products that “can be discreet and  . . .are applied by the user – important concepts for those who lack agency in relationships or face stigma for choosing to protect themselves . . .” expressing continued support for “a new generation of solutions,” and asking for feedback.

Is PEPFAR leaving behind key populations? The PEPFAR “strategy” of aiming for HIV control in 10 of 13 countries announced by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is concerning in the scope of the numbers of people it leaves behind. This piece from MSMGF highlights the plan’s paucity of attention to key populations hit hardest by HIV, who the writer notes, together comprise nearly half of those infected in 2015, and  half of all people living with HIV who are not accessing treatment.

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