This Week In HIV Research


This Week in HIV Research: Antiretrovirals and Birth Outcomes; Molecular Tweezers and HIV Prevention; the PrEP Uptake Conundrum; and More

August 21, 2015

This week, we see our latest sobering reminder that, as much as we've learned about how to stop HIV replication in its tracks, there are still large, fundamental areas -- such as the effects of antiretroviral therapy on a fetus -- about which we have much to learn. We also learn about some sexy new developments in HIV chemoprevention, and explore a couple of current areas of clinical debate, such as whether HIV/hepatitis C (HCV)-coinfected patients should still be considered a hard-to-treat population and why uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) use remains so slow.

To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!

Comorbidities and Complications

Antiretroviral Therapy in Relation to Birth Outcomes Among HIV-Infected Women

Although it's undeniable the extraordinary extent to which antiretroviral therapy has decimated rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission, results of a prospective observational study in Tanzania (published Aug. 10 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases) show an association between HIV treatment during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes. "We need to recognize that we have limited data on what these risks are," Lynne M. Mofenson, M.D., of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, writes in an accompanying editorial commentary.

Are HIV/HCV-Coinfected People No Longer "Special"?

"Populations that were considered special because their [HCV] infections were more difficult to cure with interferon are still more difficult to cure," write Ashwin Balagopal, M.D., and David L. Thomas, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Sept. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases. But the use of direct-acting antiretrovirals (DAAs) to treat HCV in patients coinfected with HIV has reached such a high rate of success -- as demonstrated in a new study published in the same journal issue -- that "nearly all patients can be cured," even those who have traditionally been considered part of especially challenging populations, they argue.

Incidence and Predictors for Development of Abnormal Anal Cytology Among HIV-infected Adults Receiving Contemporary Antiretroviral Therapy

The findings of a large study aimed at elucidating how the epidemiology of anal cancer and its precursors have evolved has been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The SUN Study results found a high rate (59%) of persistent, high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, with the highest rates occurring among men who have sex with men, followed closely by women. Abnormal anal cytology was more likely to be discovered among people with persistent, high-risk HPV.

HIV Chemoprevention

"Molecular Tweezer" Identified as Potential New Path for HIV Prevention

You know you've conducted a sexy HIV research study when a publication like Wired decides it's worth writing an article about. A study published Aug. 18 in eLife explores the mechanism of action of a molecule known as CLR01 and identifies its apparent ability to directly attack and destroy HIV (and similar viruses) by disrupting the viral membrane. The researchers suggest the findings could have significant implications for microbicide development.

SIV Bypasses Neutralizing Antibodies Introduced Into Rhesus Macaques

Researchers may be headed back to the drawing board following unexpected findings when an experimental prime-boost SIV vaccine was administered to rhesus macaques. When the macaques were mucosally challenged with SIV, the virus appeared "to shrug the antibodies off," according to a Woodruff Health Sciences Center news release. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Aug. 10.

HIV Transmission

If PrEP Decreases HIV Transmission, What Is Impeding Its Uptake?

Last month marked the three-year anniversary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada) for use as PrEP, but in many clinical settings it remains heavily underutilized. Kenneth H. Mayer, M.D., and Douglas S. Krakower, M.D., explore the reasons behind PrEP's slow adoption in an editorial commentary published online on Aug. 13 in Clinical Infectious Diseases. "[T]he challenges posed by unsupportive health insurance environments may become one of the major impediments remaining for PrEP to be scaled up at a sufficient level to radically decrease the number new HIV infections across the United States," they warn.

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 and

Follow Myles on Twitter: @MylesatTheBody.

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This article was provided by TheBodyPRO.

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