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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.

27 March 2015

Trial studies likely to fail if community not actively involved in study set up

A recently published study about the failure of the Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) trial in the New England Journal of Medicine, argues that the negative outcome of the study was not associated with the non-effectiveness of the product, but the participants deceit and lack of compliance. The VOICE trial was abruptly stopped after independent safety monitors concluded that the women who were given the pills and vaginal gels containing antiretrovirals (ARVs) were becoming infected at the same rate as women who were given a placebo.

23 March 2015

World TB Day: A call for greater integration of HIV and TB services

This World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, UNAIDS have called for a greater integration of HIV and TB services in order to combat the dual epidemics. In 2013, over 9 million people were diagnosed with TB, of which 1.1 million were also living with HIV. PLHIV are around 30 times more likely to develop opportunistic infections such as TB, with TB being the leading cause of death for PLHIV – among this group, 360,000 deaths can be attributed to TB alone.

18 March 2015

PET scan reveals hiding places of HIV

Newly developed scanning techniques make it possible to identify where latent HIV is hiding in the body. This new development will create better opportunities to eradicate HIV from the body. Antiretroviral treatment (ART) is able to eradicate HIV from the blood, but as the virus returns when people stop taking treatment, HIV must be hiding somewhere in the body.

13 March 2015

Primary care providers need further training on HIV

The introduction of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for people at an increased risk of HIV is challenging healthcare providers. People newly infected with HIV will normally seek care from a doctor specialised in HIV, but for people who protect themselves from HIV through the use of antiretroviral medication (PrEP), they will normally engage with a primary care provider, and not a specialist.

11 March 2015

Fat gain associated with viral load, not treatment

HIV infection, or inflammatory changes associated with HIV infection, are responsible for fat gain in people living with HIV (PLHIV) and on treatment, and not the antiretroviral treatment (ART) itself. This is according to new research presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) last week.

09 March 2015

Smoking largest contributing factor to non-AIDS related cancers

Smoking is the biggest contributing factor to the total burden of non-AIDS related cancers for people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the United States, when compared to all other risk factors. Studies show that PLHIV who smoke, or used to smoke, have a 37 percent increased risk of non-AIDS related cancers in comparison to a control group, and a 29 percent increased risk when lung cancer is not taken into the equation. Halting the progression of HIV to AIDS could prevent another up to eight percent of non-AIDS cancer.

06 March 2015

HIV treatment coverage among key populations low in Cameroon

Antiretroviral treatment (ART) coverage among men who have sex with men (MSM) and female sex workers (FSW) in Cameroon is extremely low. Only 25 percent of MSM living with HIV are on treatment, and 16 percent of FSWs living with HIV are on treatment – as absolute best estimates. The results come from a study released in this month’s Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), in a supplement that focuses on the HIV response in West and Central Africa.

04 March 2015

Ebola disrupts HIV care in Sierra Leone

The recent Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leon has disrupted HIV care in the country, with hospitals closed because they are overrun with Ebola patients, and non-Ebola patients are too afraid to visit hospitals in fear of getting the virus. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has raised concerns, believing this may lead to an increase in HIV prevalence and antiretroviral drug resistance.

02 March 2015

Abstinence and faithfulness programmes not effective

Nearly $US1.3 billion has been spent on the promotion of abstinence and faithfulness programmes by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in sub-Saharan Africa, with no significant impact on sexual behaviour, or reduction in HIV incidence. These disappointing results came from an analysis of sexual health data from 14 different countries where PEPFAR programmes are implemented, and were presented at last week’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015).