June 26, 2015
This week, the United Kingdom took a big step toward universal HIV treatment, there was an influx of new data for one of the most visually engaging HIV surveillance tools in the U.S. and some important new context was gained for discussions ranging from the cost of hepatitis C treatment to the centrality of nutrition in HIV treatment success. We touch on these stories, as well as a few others that may have slipped under the HIV research radar.
To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!
The U.S. National Institutes of Health posted draft criteria for research that explores the safety of organ transplantation between HIV-positive individuals. The effort is associated with the HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act, a U.S. law that revises previous legislation that had banned the transplantation of organs from HIV-positive people. The draft research criteria were published June 18; comments are being accepted until Aug. 17.
In advance of the U.S.'s annual National HIV Testing Day on June 27, AIDSVu -- an interactive, visual representation of U.S. HIV surveillance data (sometimes down to the neighborhood level, within select cities) -- launched an updated version of its website and released a bevy of new maps, infographics and highlighted information.
Thanks to a team of U.S. researchers, we now have what may be our first in-depth examination of the cost-effectiveness of the newest generation of hepatitis C virus treatment regimens relative to older therapies (or no therapy at all). Also worth reading: a commentary on the findings by Michael Saag, M.D., the director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama-Birmingham -- if for no other reason than how he manages to tie hepatitis C drug pricing and access to the iconic 1960s sitcom Get Smart.
There is an independent association between consistent food insufficiency and unsuppressed viral load among people with HIV, according to a longitudinal study of 2,118 HIV-positive people participating in food and nutrition programs in New York City. The findings provide a new example for how HIV treatment access is often not enough, in and of itself, to guarantee viral suppression.
Although symptoms of depression were very common among iPrEx study participants, they were no more likely to occur among those who were randomized to receive an active oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) regimen than those who were randomized to receive a placebo regimen, according to a study published in AIDS and Behavior. The iPrEx study, which enrolled men and transgender women who have sex with men, provided the first solid statistical evidence of PrEP's efficacy.
By triggering CD4 cells to pump out more of a small RNA molecule called microRNA-29, interleukin-21 (IL-21) limits HIV replication soon after infection, according to results of tissue and mouse studies conducted by U.S. researchers. The investigators believe their findings, which were published June 25 in Nature Communications, offer insight into the first steps of HIV infection and could inform strategies that limit the magnitude of early HIV infection.
Is there a development this week in HIV research that you think we missed? Send us a tip!
Myles Helfand is the editorial director of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Myles on Twitter: @MylesatTheBody.
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