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The latest international news, analysis and features on the HIV epidemic from Avert. Share your views and expertise with your peers in the comments box below the articles.

30 January 2015

US health insurers discriminate with high ARV prices

A study that looked at health insurance plans under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the United States has found that people living with HIV (PLHIV) on some plans are paying on average $3000 more than PLHIV on other plans. The findings have sparked concerns that these insurance providers are pricing antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in the highest bracket within their plans – in what has been called ‘adverse tiering’ – to discourage PLHIV taking up policies.

28 January 2015

Involving women living with HIV in their own care

Last week the Salamander Trust, in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health, published the report Building a safe house on firm grounds. The report provides healthcare professionals with guidelines to facilitate quality care, positive attitudes and good practice in the treatment and care of women living with HIV.

23 January 2015

People living with HIV in Peru protest against high treatment prices

People living with HIV in Peru have demanded the Minister of Health, Aníbal Velásquez Valdivia, to declare the need for antiretroviral medication a national interest, and to lift the monopoly on medication, making it possible to buy generic treatment at a much lower price. Currently the US pharmaceutical company Brystol-Myers-Squibb has a government monopoly on the provision of the antiretroviral treatment Atazanavir, meaning the government is unable to buy any other treatment brand.

20 January 2015

People living with HIV do not face increased risks for heart attack

The risk of a heart attack for people living with HIV has declined to the same risk as people living without HIV. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases shows that the increased risk of heart attack for people living with HIV is largely reversible when a continued emphasis on primary prevention is given, in combination with early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to prevent immune infection.

19 January 2015

China: New HIV infections increase by 15%

New HIV infections in China have increased by 14.8 percent in the last year alone, according to reports from Xinhua, the state-run Chinese newspaper. Wang Guoqiang, Deputy Director of the Chinese National Health and Family Planning Commission, stated that despite China having a relatively small HIV epidemic, there are significant increases in new infections in certain areas, and among key populations, such as older people and young students.

16 January 2015

Mental health problems increase risk of HIV in men having sex with men

Researchers have found that men who have sex with men (MSM) suffering from five specific mental health conditions, including depression, alcohol abuse, stimulant use, multi drug abuse and childhood sexual abuse, all lead to increased sexual risk behaviour and HIV infection. Until recent nothing was known about these mental health factors predicting HIV risk behaviours or becoming infected with HIV.

15 January 2015

Research calls for start of HIV treatment within 12 months of infection

Emerging research suggests that starting antiretroviral treatment (ART) at a CD4 count of 500 cells/mm3– the current treatment initiation threshold – is inadequate for normalising the functioning of the immune system. Contributing to this knowledge, a study published in JAMA states that starting ART within 12 months of becoming HIV positive, regardless of whether CD4 count has dropped to 500 cells/mm3 or not, results in measureable and significant immunological benefits.

13 January 2015

SHARE project reduces incidence of intimate partner violence and HIV

A community project in Uganda involving a combination of different behavioural interventions has been shown to significantly reduce incidence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV among individuals exposed to the interventions. The Safe Homes and Respect for Everyone (SHARE) project used community based interventions to reduce physical and sexual IPV, and reduce HIV incidence in the Rakai District of Uganda – an area characterised by high rates of HIV prevalence and incidence, and relatively high rates of IPV.

09 January 2015

Use of injectable contraceptives increase risks of HIV

The use of injectable contraceptives moderately increases the risks of HIV in women, this is compared to other women who use other hormonal contraceptives, including the pill. The new research published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, polled results from 12 observational trials. They concluded that woman at a higher risk of HIV infection, and using injectable contraceptives, had a 40 percent increased risk of HIV, will women of the general population have a 30 percent increased risk.

07 January 2015

Paediatric HIV disclosure in Namibia

A tool to help caregivers and healthcare workers disclose to children that they are living with HIV in Namibia has been found to be highly effective in a low-resource setting. The study evaluated the effectiveness of a paediatric HIV disclosure intervention, and is thought to be the first formal research of its kind in the sub-Saharan Africa context.