December 2006 Archives

Vietnam makes AIDS policy change

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vietnamA stocky woman in blue jeans with spiky, gelled black hair dances on stage at one of Vietnam's rural rehabilitation centres, leading a hip-hop style chant.

"Hold hands together, we'll stop AIDS together," shouted the former heroin addict patient who returned to the rehabilitation centre to encourage over a thousand recovering drug users and prostitute inmates, a third of whom have HIV or AIDS.

People face stigma and discrimination when they leave the minimum security centres, especially if they are infected with HIV or have AIDS. HIV-infected people are often refused employment and their children denied schooling.

"Everybody should unite in combating this disease," said Danh Thu Hanh, 36, a former addict who spent two years as an inmate.

Bono to be Honoured by Queen for AIDS, Poverty Work

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BonoThe British Embassy in Dublin has announced that U2 frontman Bono is being awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen.

The singer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, has been given the honour for "his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work," it said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated him, telling the singer in a letter: "You have tirelessly used your voice to speak up for Africa."

Bono will receive the honour in Dublin early in the new year, and British ambassador David Reddaway will conduct the ceremony.

Surgery a Bigger Risk for HIV-Infected Patients

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are more likely to develop pneumonia after their operation and to die within one year compared to uninfected patients, U.S. researchers report.

The study also found that HIV patients with a preoperative viral load (number of copies of virus in the blood) greater than 30,000 per milliliter appeared to be most likely to suffer surgical complications.

In the study, a team from Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program-Northern California, in Oakland, analyzed surgical outcomes for 332 HIV patients who had a number of different kinds of operations (including heart, abdominal and orthopedic) between 1997 and 2002. They compared those outcomes to outcomes for 332 surgical patients without HIV.

More HIV patients developed pneumonia after surgery (2.4 percent vs. 0.3 percent), and more HIV patients died within 12 months after their surgery (3 percent vs. 0.6 percent).

Thais battle for affordable HIV drugs

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nevirapine (courtesy of AP)APIWAT KWANGKAEW can still remember the day, nearly five years ago, when Thailand began producing nevirapine, a generic anti-retroviral drug. Within an hour of the announcement, hospital wards across the country were backed up with patients.

These were people who knew they were sick but could not afford treatment. With a population of 64 million, Thailand has more than 1 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Some believe the figure is much higher.

The drug helped save Mr Apiwat's life. Now he is fighting to save others, taking on the US pharmaceutical giant Merck for the right to break the patent on the anti-retroviral drug efavirenz, and produce another generic HIV-AIDS treatment.

25 years later, misconceptions persist about HIV/AIDS

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AIDSCHATTANOOGA, Tenn. In the 25 years since the U-S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified AIDS, misconceptions still surround the disease in Tennessee.

Many people still associate H-I-V and AIDS with gay white men, but in Hamilton County last year, 51 percent of all reported cases of H-I-V were blacks.

Increasingly, AIDS sufferers also include Hispanics, women and children.Meantime, misconceptions persist about how someone can become infected with H-I-V.

Some youngsters still think you can get H-I-V from mosquitoes or from sitting on a toilet seat.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press

Rifts Emerge on Push to End Written Consent for H.I.V. Tests

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hiv testA yearlong effort by New York City’s health commissioner to do away with a state requirement that patients give their written consent before being tested for H.I.V. has created a sharp rift among doctors and advocates for people with H.I.V. and AIDS.

More than 1,400 people in the city died from AIDS-related illnesses last year. Of the more than 100,000 New Yorkers who are infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, perhaps one-fifth do not know it, according to city estimates. About one-fourth of H.I.V. diagnoses are made when the patient already has AIDS, by which time the infection has gone undetected for a decade, on average.

Alarmed by those facts, the health commissioner, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, co-wrote an article in The New England Journal of Medicine a year ago calling for governments to be much more aggressive in monitoring and caring for people with H.I.V., and to treat the virus more like other infectious diseases.

trial in LibyaAs news spreads around the world about a Libyan court’s decision to re-impose the death sentences on five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor for supposedly deliberately infecting hundreds of children with HIV, world leaders are starting to express their disappointment, shock and horror.

George Bush communicated his “disappointment” to Georgi Parvanov, the Bulgarian President. Bush said he is fully behind Bulgaria’s attempts to strive for the release of the five nurses.

Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State said it is urgent that the medical workers are freed and allowed to go home as soon as possible. They have been in prison since 1999. Johannes Laitenberger, a spokesman for the European Union, said the EU will decide what steps to take against Libya after a legal appeal is launched and concluded.

valeant pharmaceuticals Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE: VRX) announced the sale of certain of its discovery and preclinical assets to Ardea Biosciences, Inc. (formerly IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals) (OTC: IBPI). The sale includes the rights to Valeant's HIV and cancer development programs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ardea will make payments to Valeant upon the achievement of clinical milestones for both HIV and cancer programs. Valeant will retain an option, exercisable upon the completion of Phase 2b studies by Ardea, to reacquire rights to commercialize its HIV program outside of the United States and Canada upon Ardea's completion of Phase 3 trials. Ardea will pay Valeant development milestones and royalties upon its commercialization of the HIV and cancer programs. Valeant would make milestone and royalty payments to Ardea related to the clinical advancement and commercialization of the HIV program should Valeant exercise its option to this program.

source - StreetInsider 

University of Minnesota AIDS Clinical Trials Unit to close

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AIDS research St. Paul, Minn. — An AIDS research program at the University of Minnesota is being forced to close after 20 years of running clinical trials. The National Institutes of Health has cut back on domestic research funding for HIV/AIDS, but plans to perform clinical trials in developing nations.

The Minnesota ACTU is one of eight programs whose research grants have not been renewed by the NIH.

Hank Balfour is the principal investigator of the Minnesota ACTU and the University of Minnesota's International Center for Antiviral Research and Epidemiology. He says other public health concerns, like avian flu or bioterrorism, may be perceived to be greater threats.

source - Minnesota Public Radio

Bush disappointed by Libyan death ruling

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George BushPresident Bush told Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov on Thursday that he was disappointed with a Libyan court decision to reimpose the death sentences on Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of infecting Libyan children with HIV.

Bush spoke with Parvanov on the phone from the White House about the Libyan decision, expressing his strong support for Bulgaria's efforts to secure the release of the medics, said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The president also congratulated Parvanov on Bulgaria's accession as a member of the European Union, which will formally take place on Jan. 1.

trial in LibyaBulgaria's president, the chairman of the National Assembly and the country's prime minister sent an open letter to the heads of state and parliamentary heads of all EU member states in connection with the Libya HIV trial.

The letter was also sent to NATO, UN, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

The letter mentions Libyan court's negligence and its rejection to take into consideration the expertise and opinion of the world-acknowledged scientist in the area of HIV and AIDS.

President Georgi Parvanov expressed his gratitude to Bulgaria's partners and allies for their support of the just cause.
CARE actPresident George W. Bush signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act of 2006 into law today, officially reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act until Sept 30, 2009. AIDS Action Council, a Washington non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS and that helped to create and ensure passage of the original Ryan White CARE Act in 1990, expressed its thanks to the President and to Members of Congress who took action to pass the reauthorized CARE Act prior to the 109th Congress's final adjournment.

"We are pleased that the President and Congress engaged in a serious, bipartisan, bicameral effort. This bill will clearly serve many people living with HIV and AIDS in the United States," said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director, AIDS Action Council. "However, this bill alone is not sufficient to ensure that life saving drugs and medical treatment is available to all who are infected. Appropriations have fallen far short over the last several years while the epidemic is growing with 40,000 new infections every year. The reality is we need more funding. We urge the President to add additional funds to his budget request for next year and will work with the new Congress to make sure that additional resources are made available."

circumcisionThis fact sheet summarizes information in four areas of male circumcision:

  1. male circumcision and risk of HIV transmission;
  2. male circumcision and other health conditions;
  3. risks associated with male circumcision; and
  4. status of HIV infection and male circumcision in the United States.

What is Male Circumcision?

Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (or prepuce) from the penis [2].

theratechnologiesMONTREAL, QUEBEC -- December 19, 2006 -- Theratechnologies (TSX: TH) today announced positive top line results for its Phase 3 clinical trial, testing the Company's lead compound, TH9507, in patients with HIV-associated lipodystrophy, a serious medical condition common in HIV patients. The study was powered to detect an 8% reduction in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) versus placebo. After 26 weeks, patients on TH9507 achieved a 15% reduction in VAT versus baseline and a 20% difference versus placebo. Further, TH9507 was shown to be well tolerated by patients.

Yves Rosconi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Theratechnologies, stated, "We are very excited by the results that we are announcing today. These data add strong support to our clinical development plans for TH9507. The emerging efficacy/safety profile of TH9507 is exactly what we were hoping for. It has great prospects as a treatment for excess visceral fat accumulation in HIV patients, with potential advantages over other approaches being developed. The next step is to confirm these results through a second study. The preparations for the new study in North America and Europe are well advanced and we expect to enroll our first patients during the first quarter of 2007", Mr. Rosconi added.

Data On HIV/Aids Queried

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kenya Recent data by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids) on the decline of infections may have been inaccurate, a workshop was told.

It was noted that many Kenyans do not fight the scourge either due to religious reasons or cultural practices and beliefs.

The National Muslim Council of Women of Kenya (NMCWK) chairperson, Ms Nazlin Omar, said her organisation was training Muslim leaders on attitude change of the Muslim community.

Libya condemns nurses despite evidence

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Libya AIDS trial endsA court convicted five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor Tuesday of deliberately infecting 400 children with HIV and sentenced them to death, despite scientific evidence the youngsters had the virus before the medical workers came to Libya.

The United States and Europe reacted with outrage to the verdict, which prolongs a case that has hurt Libya's ties to the West. The six co-defendants already have served seven years in jail.

Earlier this month, an analysis of HIV and hepatitis virus samples taken from some of the children concluded the viral strains were circulating at the hospital where they were treated well before the nurses and doctor arrived in March 1998, according to research published by the journal Nature.

There is widespread anger in Libya over the HIV infections, and the sentence brought cheers. The Libyan press has long depicted the medical workers as guilty.

Libya court to deliver nurses' HIV case verdict

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trial in LibyaFive Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor could face the firing squad if a Libyan court convicts them on Tuesday on charges of deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV.

Concluding a retrial regarded by the outside world as a test of justice in Libya, the court will make a decision that, either way, is likely to have repercussions on the north Africa's gradual rapprochement with the West.

The six are accused of intentionally infecting 426 Libyan children with HIV at a hospital in Benghazi in the late 1990s. The prosecution has demanded the death penalty.

South African centre eases pain on wallet of AIDS drugs

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HIV/AIDS in AfricaA new US-funded clinic in downtown Johannesburg is giving hundreds of South African HIV sufferers a first chance to afford anti-retroviral drugs by offering them at a third of the market rate.

For years, patients with the AIDS virus have either had to dole out thousands of dollars a year for anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and accompanying treatment or else try their luck with the groaning public health system.

But now the Zuzimpilo medical centre, based in a rundown building at the heart of Johannesburg's inner city, aims to relieve some of the pressure on both cash-strapped patients and over-stretched hospitals.

'Social vaccine' is new mantra to fight AIDS

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AIDS worldwidePatna, Dec 16 (IANS) In the absence of vaccine against HIV/AIDS, the 'social vaccine' of mass awareness needs to be strengthened to prevent spread of the deadly virus, a top UN official here said Saturday.

"Social vaccine is the main weapon to fight against the HIV/AIDS," said Peter Piot, executive director of United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

"By social vaccine I mean to create a mass awareness to educate the people about the killer disease and on how to prevent it" said Piot, who was member of a delegation on a daylong visit to Bihar along with Suma Chakrabarti, permanent Secretary, Department for International Development (DFID) of Britain.

New Report on AIDS Drug Assistance Programs

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ARV drugsThe National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors on Tuesday released the latest ADAP Watch on AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, which are federal- and state-funded programs that provide HIV/AIDS-related medications to low-income, uninsured and underinsured HIV-positive individuals. A synopsis of the report appears below.

The report finds that as of Nov. 15, 340 individuals were on ADAP waiting lists in Alaska, Montana and South Carolina. Four states -- Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina -- have instituted other cost-containment measures since the beginning of fiscal year 2006, the report says.

AIDS impacts workplace, affects economy

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AIDSHIV/AIDS is costing more than 1 million jobs annually worldwide, with most of those losses in sub-Saharan African, according to a report from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Containing updated estimates of HIV’s impact on the world of work, the labor force and the working-age population in 60 countries, the report ILO released Nov. 30 also looked at such issues as the effect of AIDS on employment growth.

Among its findings:

circumcisionCampaigners mixed joy with prudence after new trials, described as a watershed in the quarter-century-long tragedy of AIDS, showed circumcision nearly halves a man's risk of catching HIV.

They hailed it as a golden opportunity Thursday for braking a pandemic that has claimed 25 million lives, left another 40 million infected with HIV and for which there is no cure, only a costly, lifelong dependence on drugs.

Until now, the only prevention strategies have depended on condoms and sexual abstinence, both of which are of only limited effect.

But the campaigners also cautioned that circumcision -- while low-cost, one-off and effective -- was no silver bullet.

Zimbabwe receives 65m dollars from UN to combat AIDS

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fund raisingZimbabwe has received a 65 million US dollar grant from the United Nations to bolster its fight against HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, a government minister has said.

"We signed the agreement with them (the UN's Global Fund) yesterday," junior health minister Edwin Muguti told AFP Thursday.

"These funds will be used to increase our HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis programme. We also hope to reintroduce the fixed drug combination of anti-tuberculosis drugs using these funds."

AIDS: Holes in the Campaign

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AIDSNIGERIA - "AIDS is real, Avoid casual sex," "Abstinence is the best protection against AIDS," "Avoiding AIDS, as easy as... (ABC) Abstain, Be faithful (to your partner) Condom use," "A Hug gives comfort, not HIV/AIDS, Show love and care to people living with HIV/AIDS," "Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise,"... and so the campaign against the spread of the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) on bill boards the world over seem innumerable.

Bill boards are not the only media used to mount the campaign against the spread of the pandemic. News reports, jingles and programmes are aired and televised in the broadcast, and news reports, features, opinions, editorials and advertisements published in the print media against its spread, have permeated the surface of the globe. All these are apart from public awareness rallies.

The campaigns increase and rage broader by the day, seemingly at the same speed with the reported spread of the pandemic, at some instances, seeming at a higher speed, to remoter human settlements, especially in African and Asian countries, most especially in those reportedly having the highest prevalence rate.

Deadline extended for best HIV/AIDS broadcast award

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AIDSThe deadline for the “World Awards for Best TV and Radio Programs on HIV and AIDS” has been extended from December 1, 2006, to January 15, 2007 to allow reports broadcast on World Aids Day to be submitted.            

The awards are being sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) with UNAIDS and will be presented during its “HIV and AIDS Global Media Strategies” conference in May 2007.

Freelancers and producers from broadcasting organizations with reports that were broadcast between December 1, 2004, and December 1, 2006, are invited to apply.

CDCThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the faith community’s influence on knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about health. Since 1996, CDC has provided resources to faith-based organizations and worked to make them part of HIV prevention efforts. Faith-based organizations have conducted many HIV prevention activities. These activities include capacity-building assistance and training programs for faith leaders whose communities have high rates of HIV/AIDS.

CDC held a two-day meeting on “Faith and HIV Prevention” on February 13-14, 2006 in Atlanta, GA. The meeting was held to expand and strengthen CDC’s partnerships with faith communities. People who attended the meeting included faith leaders, people who provide HIV services, and public health workers. They discussed the role of faith-based organizations in helping prevent HIV/AIDS. There were 48 people at the meeting, including 29 leaders from many faiths, including Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Hebrew-Israelite, Muslim, and Buddhism.

KenyaThe Vice President of Kenya, Dr Moody Awori, has urged the nationwide adoption of a home-based care model co-developed with the UK Christian HIV and AIDS charity Mildmay Mission Hospital.

The appeal follows years of close partnership between Mildmay and the Kenyan Ministry of Health which worked together to form the Nyanza Model of Home-Based Care for HIV and AIDS sufferers in Kenya.

The Nyanza Model’s success has now convinced the government that the whole country – which has a total of 1.3 million HIV and AIDS sufferers - would benefit from adopting this ‘best practice’ model.

HIV/Aids slashes average life expectancy to 51 years

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HIV and AIDS in S AfricaJOHANNESBURG - South Africa, which has the world's second heaviest caseload of HIV/Aids, has seen average life expectancy fall by 13 years since 1990 to 51, a new study shows.

A survey by the Medical Research Council and Actuarial Society of South Africa revealed that life expectancy this year was "estimated to be 49 years for males and 53 years for females" or an average of 51.

"By 2005, the HIV/Aids pandemic had already taken about 13 years off life expectancy," the report stated.

Researcher Debbie Bradshaw said life expectancy in South Africa in 1990 was 64 years, but had dropped to 51.
viagraLOS ANGELES, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation's largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare, education and prevention and direct provider of HIV/AIDS medical care to tens of thousands of AIDS patients in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, launches a print advertising campaign this week calling on Pfizer, Inc., the world's largest pharmaceutical company, to end its marketing of its erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra, as a sexual enhancement drug, thereby encouraging its recreational use and fueling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

The first wave of the Viagra + Meth = Rx for HIV Infection ad campaign begins in New York and Los Angeles this week with full-page ads in The Village Voice, The New York Blade and LA Weekly, with an ad appearing next week in L.A.'s Frontiers Magazine. The ads alert the public to the dangers of combining Viagra with crystal methamphetamines (an illegal drug, also know as crystal meth) and urges the pharmaceutical giant "to exercise responsibility by discontinuing marketing to men with mild erectile dysfunction, and by initiating an educational campaign on the dangers of Viagra and crystal meth, targeting men who have sex with men."

On the Job With HIV

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Jennifer Munthali (courtesy of the Washington post)As usual, The Washington Post has another brilliant article. this time it is about HIV, and how many employers still lack policies on AIDS prevention and care.

Two weeks after she started to work at Catholic Relief Services in 2004, Jennifer Munthali decided to tell her boss that she was HIV positive.

"I barely knew my supervisor," said Munthali, who was the program manager for AIDS relief in Zambia. "It was indeed a scary time. Even though I was at a higher management level, I was afraid I was going to lose my job."

UN's envoy hails Malawi for wider rollout of free AIDS drugs

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MalawiJames Morris, the United Nations special envoy for southern Africa, hailed Malawi for expanding the rollout of anti-retroviral drugs to reach 70,000 AIDS sufferers by the end of this year.

"This is a dramatic increase of 70,000 from 8,000 two years ago... lives have been saved and it's possible to be productive citizens again," Morris, on the second leg of a five-nation visit, told reporters here.

Morris arrived here from Zambia for a two-day visit, the last to the region of his tenure, and will meet government officials, donor representatives, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Bangladesh gets U.N. award for AIDS prevention

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BangladaeshA Bangladeshi women's group was awarded a cash prize of $20,000 on Monday for its work in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said.

The "Durjoy Nari Shongo" (indomitable women's council) shared the UNDP's "Red Ribbon" 2006 award with four other groups in Ukraine, Thailand, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The Bangladeshi group distributes condoms, gives information about AIDS to sex workers and provides for the education of their children.

African minister ends decade of denial on Aids

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HIV in AfricaFor two years she laboured in the shadow of her boss, South Africa's notorious health minister, who declared garlic, lemon and beetroot a suitable treatment for the country's victims of Aids.

Now Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a plain-speaking 55-year-old Quaker, is being feted as a heroine by health campaigners, Aids sufferers and much of South Africa's media, for daring to end a decade of denial on the disease by the ruling African National Congress.

In the space of a few weeks the deputy health minister has helped turn government policy on its head.

HIV/AIDSAIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US' largest provider of HIV/AIDS healthcare, education and prevention and operator of free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, today joined scores of other global AIDS advocates in praising Thailand's Ministry of Health announcing its intention to issue a compulsory license for the lifesaving HIV/AIDS drug Efavirenz, made by Merck. World Trade Organization regulations include flexibilities, which allow governments to issue compulsory licenses without consulting the foreign patent owner.

"We applaud Thailand's Ministry of Health for courageously issuing this compulsory license to make an affordable version of the AIDS drug Efavirenz," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "With this one move, Thailand has placed the health of its citizens ahead of drug company profits and now stands with Brazil and Malaysia as a model for countries around the world whose people are in need of lifesaving AIDS medicines. We call on governments in countries where people continue to lack access to urgently-needed AIDS drugs to follow Thailand's lead and pursue all tactics necessary to provide their citizens with lifesaving medicines."

source - Phama Lexicon 

HIV-Infected Intestinal Immune Cells Never Rebound

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AIDS researchHealthDay News -- Within a few weeks of being infected by HIV, most of a person's memory T-cells vanish and are not likely to return even after years of antiretroviral treatment, a new study finds.

Previous research has shown that HIV infection depletes memory T-cells -- which are mostly found in the intestinal tract -- within days. In contrast, T-cells circulating in the blood typically decline over several years, according to background information in the article.

It's known that T-cells in the blood can return to normal levels when HIV patients take antiviral drugs. But it wasn't clear whether intestinal memory T -cell levels returned to normal.

In this study, researchers at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City and elsewhere performed intestinal biopsies on HIV patients who had started treatment shortly after they were infected.

Hormonal contraception doesn't raise HIV risk

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contraceptiveUsing hormonal contraception does not appear to increase women's overall risk of contracting the AIDS virus, according to a U.S. National Institutes of Health study published on Thursday.

The study, published on the Web site of the journal "AIDS," followed thousands of women in Africa and Asia and compared their patterns of contraceptive use to their risk of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"Understanding whether hormonal contraceptive use alters the risk of HIV acquisition among women is a critical public health issue," the study authors wrote.

Some 6,000 women, in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Thailand enrolled in the study were offered a choice of the most commonly prescribed forms of hormonal contraception, birth control pills or DMPA (depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate) injections, as well as condoms.

AIDS Activist Describes Living With HIV

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Rami Al Harithi.jpgRIYADH, 6 December 2006 — The pale young man suddenly got up from his chair, walked to the stage, and began his presentation.

“I stand before you today as perhaps the longest living person infected with AIDS in Saudi Arabia,” said the 30-year-old Makkawi at an AIDS symposium organized yesterday by the National Society for Human Rights at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center here.

“My name is Rami ibn Faisal Al-Harithi Al-Shareef. I was infected with HIV when I was six years old when my mom took me to get circumcised,” he said.

Study says malaria helps spread HIV

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malariaMalaria is fueling the spread of AIDS in Africa by boosting the HIV in people's bodies for weeks at a time, says a study that pins down the deadly interplay between the dual scourges.

It's a vicious cycle as people weakened by HIV are, in turn, more vulnerable to malaria.

University of Washington researchers who estimated the impact of the overlapping infections concluded that the interaction could be blamed for thousands of HIV infections and almost a million bouts of malaria over two decades in just one part of Kenya.

The research, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, highlights the need for a joint attack on both epidemics.

HIV/AIDS: NACA, others get 49 million global fund grant

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fund raisingThe fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country got a boost on Thursday with a 49-million-dollar Global Fund support to three agencies to combat the scourge of the disease.

The three agencies are the National Action Committee Against HIV/AIDS (NACA), Society for Family Health (SFH) and the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH).

The agencies jointly signed the agreement with Global Fund at the reception organised for the visiting delegation of the Fund at the Ocean View Restaurant, Victoria Island Lagos.

A Molecular Condom Against AIDS

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researchUniversity of Utah scientists designed a "molecular condom" women could use daily to prevent AIDS by vaginally inserting a liquid that would turn into a gel-like coating and then, when exposed to semen, return to liquid form and release an antiviral drug.

"We have developed a new vaginal gel that we call a molecular condom because it is composed of molecules that are liquid at room temperature and, when applied in the vagina, will spread and turn into a gel and effectively coat the tissue," says Patrick Kiser, an assistant professor of bioengineering. "It's a smart molecular condom because we designed this gel to release anti-HIV drugs when the gel comes into contact with semen during intercourse."

"The ultimate hope for this technology is to protect women and their unborn or nursing children from the AIDS virus," but the molecular condom is five years away from tests in humans and roughly 10 years until it might be in widespread use, Kiser says.

Diabetes summit: Alarm raised about Aids drug

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d4T drugInternational diabetes experts warn that one of South Africa's most commonly used anti-Aids drugs could, in the long term, send the country's diabetes rates spiralling.

The concern has prompted a local HIV and Aids expert, who referred to the drug as "the villain" among first-line treatment, to call on pharmaceutical companies to make alternatives more affordable.

Dutch diabetes expert Professor Peter Reiss raised the alarm on the second day of the World Diabetes Congress currently on in the city.

But he warned that the toxicity of d4T should not be used as an argument for withholding lifesaving treatment.

World AIDS Day, worth thinking about

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aids awarenessby Iris Phillips, 100 mile Free Press, Canada

Dec. 1, was World AIDS Day but somehow I missed hearing about it or if I did I just didn’t pay attention.

I did spend a bit of time tracking the happenings of the Liberal Leadership Convention. Somehow it’s like watching the history of our country unfold right before our eyes. Fascinating stuff.

So somehow World AIDS Day just passed me by.

And to be honest, does it really matter?

You never hear much about AIDS anymore. It seems like the big scare of an AIDS pandemic never materialized. Isn’t there treatment now anyways?

Local Man Raises AIDS Awareness

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Timothy GistoverThe CDC estimates that 100 Americans are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS every day, despite awareness and education efforts centered on preventing the incurable disease. The sad part is that many people that have HIV have no idea, and infect someone else inadvertently.

The Meharry Center for AIDS Research in Nashville estimated that in 2004, more than 4,000 people in the mid-state were living with HIV or AIDS; nearly three times that number in all of Tennessee were infected.

The common belief is that gay men are most at risk, but that conception is rapidly changing. More and more minority heterosexuals are contracting the disease. In Davidson County alone, health officials report about 25-30 new cases of HIV every month. African-American, heterosexual women are contracting the virus at the fastest rate. Wednesday, AIDS activists joined forces to spread the word to get tested. One local man living with the virus has made that his mission too.

Thai ministry OKs AIDS drug patent license

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thailandBEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- Thailand's public health ministry announced Wednesday it will issue a compulsory license for a patent held by the Merck pharmaceutical company for the AIDS treatment drug efavirenz.

Thailand is developing its own generic version of the drug using the country's public drug manufacturer, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization. Production is expected to begin next year, and the compulsory license will allow the importation of generic efavirenz from India in the meantime.

International organization Médecins Sans Frontières (Medicine Without Frontiers) welcomed the decision and urged the government to issue similar licenses for other essential medicines.

IsraelGAZA CITY, 6 December (IRIN) - The manner in which 14-year-old Mahmoud (not his real name) caught the HIV/AIDS virus was unusual - but the subsequent reaction of Palestinian society was all too predictable.

"I got it from a blood transfusion when I was 12. Now, no one talks me. My friends all left me when they knew that I'm AIDS patient. I feel I'm alone in this world. They are afraid to get infected from me, as I was infected, but it is not my fault that I have AIDS now," said the youngster from the West Bank.

"I'll never finish college. I'll never have a family like the others. I will never have babies. I also believe that it will not be long before I leave this world," he added.

Afghan drugs a worry as Pakistanis confront AIDS

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afghan opium ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Afghanistan's booming opium trade is a huge concern for Pakistan as it confronts the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among intravenous drug users, Pakistan's minister of health said on Wednesday.

Pakistan recorded its first case of HIV infection in 1987 and the number of confirmed cases is now 3,556 -- of whom more than 300 have developed AIDS -- but experts say the true figure could be many times higher.

Health Minister Mohammad Naseer Khan said Pakistan was a low-prevalence but high-risk country when it came to AIDS.

The government was committed to the fight against the disease but efforts had to be intensified to tackle Afghanistan's booming output of opium -- the raw material for heroin, he said.

Clinton urges end to HIV/AIDS stigma in Vietnam

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Clinton in Asia (courtesy Reuters) HANOI (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged young Vietnamese on Wednesday to talk more about HIV and AIDS to reduce fear and ignorance of the disease and discourage discrimination.

"The more you talk about it and the more people see flesh and blood human beings who are HIV positive who are good people and not frightening," Clinton said during a one-day visit with his New York-based Clinton Foundation for HIV/AIDS.

Vietnam, which has an estimated 280,000 HIV infections out of a population of 84 million people, is fighting to stop the spread of the epidemic to the general population from high-risk groups such as injecting drug users and prostitutes.

China to prosecute deliberate AIDS infections

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china BEIJING (Reuters) - China will prosecute people who deliberately infect others with HIV, state media said on Wednesday.

"Those who know they are infected with AIDS or are sick with AIDS and deliberately infect others will be severely punished according to the law," the Beijing News said, citing an unnamed police officer as telling an AIDS prevention workshop.

It provided no details on what kind of sentences would be meted out, nor how police would prove the virus had knowingly been passed on by someone.

Police would also deal just as severely with criminal suspects who have AIDS as those who do not, the report said.

Best HIV prevention programs build skills: review

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HIV prevention programsIt takes more than just passing along good information to stop the spread of HIV, a new US-government-backed study on HIV/AIDS prevention programs has found.

It takes "enhanced education, where you actually build their skills and don't just give them information," said lead author Cynthia Lyles of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in a statement.

To help arm local health agencies with the most effective HIV prevention programs, Lyles and colleagues examined 100 HIV behavioral intervention programs developed and tested between 2000 and 2004. Their findings appear in January's American Journal of Public Health.

AIDS - dismissing the stigma

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HIV/AIDSIt has been a long-held misconception that Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) claims the lives of its victim quickly and only affects gay men, African people and drug users.

However, of the 2,913 patients treated for the infection in the East of England in 2005, 78 per cent were heterosexual non-drug users.

In the Harlow district, there are 65 patients receiving treatment.

And with the help of modern-day treatments, the majority of patients are living relatively normal lives.

Advocates urge prisons to take steps against AIDS

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HIV cases in WVa prisons (courtesy Daily Mail)Cases of West Virginia inmates with HIV and AIDS have dwindled in recent years, but prevention advocates are still urging prisons to distribute condoms to their inmates.

Condoms are banned or unavailable in 95 percent of the country's prisons, including those in West Virginia. A recent report from the National Minority AIDS Council says offering condoms to inmates can cut the risk of spreading the deadly virus.

Joe Thornton, deputy cabinet secretary for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said there have been no serious discussions about distributing condoms in prisons lately and that the state would likely oppose such an initiative.

Soy industry involved in protein, AIDS research

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soy proteinThe US soy industry is supporting a new research project in South Africa to fill a gap in the data as to how soy protein supplementation could help people living with HIV and AIDS.

A balanced diet containing appropriate protein and other nutrients can help reduce the risk of poor outcomes and progression of disease. Since soy is a source of antioxidants and high quality protein, supplementation could prove a useful tool in helping ward off immune deficits, the researchers believe, and in turn help prevent opportunistic and other infections in people with HIV and AIDS.

Cipla Indian pharmaceutical companies Cipla and Ranbaxy under an agreement with the Clinton Foundation will reduce the prices of 19 different pediatric antiretroviral drugs in 62 developing countries to an average of 45% less than what treatments currently cost in the countries, former President Clinton announced on Thursday ahead of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the AP/Forbes reports (George, AP/Forbes, 11/30).

One of the formulations, a new three-in-one treatment for children, will cost about 16 cents per day, or $60 annually, according to the foundation. (Clinton Foundation release, 11/30). The antiretrovirals will be supplied directly to countries' governments and then will be distributed through public health programs and HIV prevention programs (AP/Forbes, 11/30). 

Magic johnsonAbbott and the Magic Johnson Foundation today announced the national launch of the "I Stand with Magic: Campaign to End Black AIDS" with a goal to help reduce new HIV infections in the African-American community by 50 percent over five years. Half of all new HIV infections in the United States are among African-Americans who represent only 15 percent of the overall population in the United States. The "I Stand With Magic" program addresses awareness, prevention and successful treatment of HIV in the African-American and other minority communities.

Starting today, World AIDS Day, community members will be encouraged to enroll at www.istandwithmagic.com, get tested for HIV and "stand" with Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Abbott in their fight against the HIV epidemic in the African-American community.
PEPFARThe Center for Public Integrity (http://www.publicintegrity.org/default.aspx) today released "Divine Intervention," (http://www.publicintegrity.org/aids) a year-long investigation into how President Bush's $15 billion initiative for care, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS abroad has failed countries struggling with the pandemic.

The special report, the first of its kind to examine the policies, politics and goals of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), looks at its effects on specific "focus countries," as well as India and Thailand, where the sex-trade industry is driving high rates of infection. Reporters affiliated with the Center's International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (http://www.publicintegrity.org/icij) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Haiti, India and Thailand found that faith-based ideology -- including abstinence -- often trumps science in the guise of federal rules, regulations and support of the organizations receiving taxpayer money.

bad news Some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, including FTSE 100 giant GlaxoSmithKline, have failed to sign a formal agreement that would ensure HIV and Aids patients in poor nations receive vital drugs.

The agreement was drawn up during three years of talks between companies and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), which has 20 million members and 400 affiliated unions worldwide. As well as GSK, the other companies involved are Pfizer, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Abbott Laboratories and Gilead Science.

The plan proposes that companies provide "high-quality HIV/Aids medicines and related products for impoverished people in sub-Saharan Africa and other least developed countries (LDCs) at no-profit prices".

EU stresses young women, prevention in AIDS fight

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EUAt a seminar marking World AIDS Day in Helsinki, the Finnish EU presidency urged an improvement in the status of young women and prevention in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"Young women have a manifold risk of contracting HIV compared to men of the same age. The virus spreads mainly though heterosexual transmission," according to Finnish Foreign Trade and Development Minister Paula Lehtomaeki, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

"The epidemic can be curbed only by assuring girl's and women's access to sexual and reproductive health and rights without pressure, compulsion or violence," Lehtomaeki told the seminar.

Australia gives $215m more to AIDS fight

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grantThe Australian government will spend an additional $215 million as part of a commitment to fight the spread of AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the additional commitment would go towards meeting the $600 million promise to fight HIV and AIDS.

This includes $65 million over eight years to help local authorities reduce the likelihood of HIV infection among injecting drug users in Burma, Vietnam, two southern Chinese provinces, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines.

This will double the programs already currently in place in these countries.

How employers can help battle Aids

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south africaBusinesses, and consequently South Africa’s economy, lose big money each year to HIV/Aids. A study commissioned by AIC Insurance last year showed that South Africa lost about R12-billion a year because of workplace absenteeism, of which between R1,8-billion and R2,2-billion could be attributed to HIV/Aids.

And it is also worrying that according to the Actuarial Society of South Africa, close to one in five South Africans between the ages of 20 and 64 are infected with HIV -- a large part of South Africa’s workforce.

Thus, for many companies, looking after their HIV-positive employees has become a necessity. HIV/Aids has become the new brain drain.

But, large corporations with the financial resources to implement HIV/Aids workplace programmes are making inroads into addressing the problem in their sectors.

MIDDLE EAST: Ignorance still rife about HIV/AIDS

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middle eastDUBAI, 1 December (IRIN) - Specialists dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Middle East have said their work has been hampered by the lack of reliable statistics. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, there is a paucity of information and statistics about the numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS.

"There is nothing available except that for adults aged 15-49, the HIV prevalence rate is 0.2 percent," said Souad Orhan, documentation officer for the United Nations AIDS office in Cairo.

HIV infection rates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have risen by 12 percent, according to the 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update released by UNAIDS. According to UNAIDS statistics, in the MENA region alone, there are 460,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS compared with 400,000 in 2004.

HIV survivors ready to talk

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aidsWhen Linda learned that she and her newborn daughter were HIV-positive, the shocked Oakland woman went on a five-year drug and alcohol binge.

"I thought I was going to die soon and my baby was going to die -- I'd given her a death sentence," Linda said. "I felt worthless."

But she didn't die. Linda, 37, who asked that her last name be withheld, ultimately sought help for her addiction to crack cocaine and got HIV counseling. Now drug-free, she's seen her daughter grow into a confident 17-year-old. Both say many people remain woefully ignorant about what the federal Centers for Disease Control calls "an epidemic in the African American community."

Tories confirm new AIDS funding of $120M

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fund raisingCANDA - The federal government chose World AIDS Day to announce its long-awaited HIV-AIDS initiative package, pledging to spend an extra $120 million this year.

International Co-operation Minister Josée Verner made the announcement at a news conference in Montreal on Friday.

"We subscribe to this year's theme, which is to put a stop to AIDS," she said in French. "The new Canadian government is determined to play a very important role in combatting AIDS."

AIDS activists had expected the funding to materialize during the World AIDS conference in Toronto in mid-August.

CDCIn September 2006, CDC published revised recommendations for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing in health-care settings to 1) increase early detection of HIV infection by expanding HIV screening of patients and 2) improve access to HIV care and prevention services (e.g., by conducting screening in locations such as emergency departments and urgent-care facilities, where persons who do not otherwise access HIV testing seek health-care services) (1).

HIV screening is now recommended for patients aged 13--64 years in all health-care settings after patients are notified that testing will be performed unless they decline (opt-out screening). This represents a substantial change from earlier recommendations to 1) offer HIV testing routinely to all patients only in health-care settings with high HIV prevalence and 2) conduct targeted screening on the basis of risk behaviors for patients in low-prevalence settings (2). This report examines HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) case reporting in South Carolina before the 2006 recommendations were published.

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