This Week In HIV Research


This Week in HIV Research: Helping HIV-Positive Smokers Quit; Alcohol and Sexual Decision-Making; Gender Differences; and More

June 18, 2015

This week we look at results from a pilot study that uses an algorithm to make it easier for smokers living with HIV to quit. We also read about a study that finds alcohol predicts sexual decision-making, while another study estimates the best ways to reduce new HIV infections based on testing and treatment priorities. We also learn about some new gender differences when it comes to immune response to HIV. To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!


Algorithm Helps Smokers Living With HIV Quit: A Pilot Study

Smokers living with HIV made a greater effort to quit smoking when provided treatment specified by a pharmacotherapy-based algorithm, as compared to those given current standard treatment, according to the findings of a pilot study published in the journal JAIDS. Those given the algorithm-derived treatment reported more attempts at quitting and greater reduction in smoking. Measures of "cessation readiness," such as motivation and self-efficacy, were also more favorable for patients receiving the algorithm-derived treatment.


Alcohol Use May Predict Sexual Decision-Making

Alcohol consumption is associated with greater intentions to have unprotected sex, according to results from a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal AIDS and Behavior. "Addressing alcohol consumption as a determinant of unprotected sex intentions may lead to more effective HIV interventions," the researchers concluded.

HIV Cascade Monitoring and Simple Modeling Reveal Potential for Reductions in HIV Incidence

To estimate the potential to reduce new HIV infections, researchers constructed a risk equation based on the HIV cascade, "linking HIV diagnosis and treatment coverage with estimates of annual incidence and prevalence," according to a paper published in the journal JAIDS.

The researchers suggested ways to prioritize testing and treatment responses in countries based on four categories:

  • High diagnosis and high treatment levels.
  • High diagnosis level but low treatment coverage.
  • Low diagnosis and low treatment levels.
  • Low diagnosis level but high treatment coverage.


Cure and Vaccine News

Changes in HIV Genetic Code Determine Severity of Disease

A new study sheds some light on how HIV manages to thwart the effects of anti-HIV antiretrovirals. HIV enters CD4+ cells by using either the CCR5 (R5) or CXCR4 (X4) receptor. In almost all cases, HIV uses the R5 receptor, however, in about 50% of patients the virus switches and begins to use the X4 receptor. This study identified two new locations on HIV's envelope that may be responsible for this switch.

"It is our hope that discovery of additional mechanisms for HIV's switch from the R5 to the X4 receptor may allow scientists and clinicians to better predict, and potentially counter, the ability of HIV to escape antiretroviral control via this mechanism," said study co-author Nicole Tobin, M.D., according to the study press release.


Faster Disease Progression and Immune Response in Female Macaques Infected With Simian HIV

Women living with HIV may progress to AIDS faster than men, but they may also have an earlier and more robust immune response, according to the results of a nonhuman primate study published in the journal AIDS. Additionally, "Proteobacteria that increase in other intestinal inflammatory disorders was significantly higher in the rectal mucosa of female than male macaques during acute infection," the researchers noted.

Hepatitis C

Reinfection After Hepatitis C Cure: Prevention May Require Long-Term Support for People Who Have Injected Drugs

Recent studies have found that reinfection rates among both current and former injection drug users (IDUs) who have been cured of hepatitis C (HCV) are relatively low, according to a report by The data assuage concerns of high HCV reinfection rates among IDUs, while supporting HCV treatment and ongoing help for IDUs.

Injection Drug Use and Hepatitis C as Risk Factors for Mortality in HIV-Infected Individuals

Hepatitis C coinfection and, to a lesser extent, injection drug use were both independent risk factors of death for people living with HIV, according to the results of a large study published in the journal JAIDS. Having both HIV/HCV coinfection and being an IDU was strongly associated with liver-related death, leading the researchers to stress the importance of HCV treatments for coinfected patients.

Is there a development this week in HIV research that you think we missed? Send us a tip!

Warren Tong is the senior science editor for and

Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.

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This article was provided by TheBodyPRO.

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