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Research on Injectable, Longer-Lasting PrEP Moving Forward

Studies focusing on injectible pre-exposure prophylaxis as a means of preventing the contraction of HIV is moving forward as researchers have seen higher rates of efficacy using certain drug combinations. Currently Truvada, produced by Gilead Sciences, is one of the only currently commercially available forms PrEP. The pill must be taken daily in order to be effective, and is actually a combination of the two antiretroviral drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine.

Screenshot 2014-11-07 12.24.50The results of testing trials presented earlier this year showed that the drug cabotegravir proved to be effective as remaining within the bloodstream and preventing HIV infection. Two doses of the drug, then known as GSK744LA, prevented all eight of the test subjects provided with doses from contracting HIV, while the control group not given the drug all became infected. Following the success of initial simian test groups, researchers are proceeding with human efficacy test trials.

The potential benefits to using integrase inhibitors like cabotegravir could be significant in the advancement of PrEP use. Unlike Truvada, cabotegavir proved to be effective being taken much less frequently.Opponents of Truvada often cite the need for a constant, regular dosage as a reason not to advertise he drug as the end all be all protection from HIV infection.  An 800mg dosage of the drug injected into the soft tissue remained in the bloodstream for up to 12 weeks, meaning that future iterations of PrEP would only need to be taken quarterly.

While cabotegavir has shown promise rilpivirine, another HIV drug being tested that has been shown to have much lower side effects in those taking it, was shown to have lost its efficacy after about 18-21 days.


Major HIV News: 'On-Demand' PrEP Study Appears Successful

Prep

In major news in the fight against HIV, a second European study has concluded the "randomized" phase of its examination of the efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) due to the drug's high effectiveness at preventing HIV infection. All participants in this latest study--IPERGAY--including those who were previously receiving a placebo medication have now been given PrEP. What is perhaps most stunning about the new findings is that evidence seems to suggest that PrEP is effective not only when taken daily but when taken "on-demand", in other words, when sex is anticipated. AIDS Map reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511e381fe970c-300wiThe investigators of the IPERGAY trial, which has six sites in France and one in Canada, announced today a “Significant breakthrough in the fight against HIV and AIDS” because IPERGAY had successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of its PrEP regimen.

IPERGAY’s early closure is significant not only because it adds confirmation that PrEP can be highly effective, but because it was testing an innovative, intermittent (“on-demand”) PrEP regimen. In this study, participants did not take PrEP daily, but only when they anticipated having sex. The regimen involved taking two pills of Truvada (tenofovir + emtricitabine) in the 24-hour period before anticipated sex and then, if sex happened, two separate one-pill doses in the two days following sex. This extends the versatility of PrEP and provides an alternative regimen to daily dosing.

The results from the IPERGAY trial mirrors those of a recent British trial, PROUD, which concluded its first phase early as well. The reports from both trials are still preliminary, however:

As with PROUD, no actual effectiveness figure or other quantitative data [from IPERGAY] were released, pending full analysis of the figures. The full results should be available early in 2015.

The trial will continue in non-randomised form for at least a year, as will PROUD, because of the need to demonstrate that “on demand” PrEP can have long-term benefit and to gather data on safety.

Principal investigator Professor Jean-Michel Molina said, "The biomedical concept of on-demand PrEP at the time of sexual exposure, in a broader prevention framework, is validated. We owe this to all trial volunteers without whom we could never have achieved these results". He adds that “condoms remain the cornerstone of HIV prevention. Combining all prevention tools that have proved to be effective will certainly allow us to better control the HIV epidemic.”

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, Director of ANRS, commented, "This is a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV. The results of the ANRS IPERGAY trial should change national and international recommendations for HIV prevention".


New York Governor Cuomo Announces Task Force To End AIDS Epidemic

Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is following through on the promise he made last June to end the AIDS epidemic with the formation of a Task Force to help bring about that end. The Task Force will be supplemented by two advisory groups - The Public Official Advisory Group and The Public Awareness Ambassadors - in the near future and plan to bring the annual HIV infections down to a mere 750 per year by 2020.

The plan will doubtlessly become complex and more fully-detailed as the groups come into being, but for now the Task Force and advisory groups plan to combat AIDS and HIV infections by:

  1. Identifying people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and linking them to health care;
  2. Linking and retaining people diagnosed with HIV to health care and getting them on anti-HIV therapy to maximize HIV virus suppression so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission; and
  3. Providing access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk people to keep them HIV negative.

The first meeting of the Task Force was held this past Tuesday with four more meetings planned for the future, all of which will be open to the public and can be watched online at http://www.governor.ny.gov/


Pat Robertson Warns Viewer Traveling to Kenya: 'You've Got to Be Careful, the Towels Could Have AIDS' - VIDEO

Robertson

Televangelist Pat Robertson, who in the past has warned viewers about gays wearing special rings to cut people and intentionally spread AIDS, has a new b.s. health warning for any viewer who might be traveling to Africa.

"You might get AIDS in Kenya, the people have AIDS, you've got to be careful, the towels can have AIDS."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pat Robertson Warns Viewer Traveling to Kenya: 'You've Got to Be Careful, the Towels Could Have AIDS' - VIDEO" »


Notorious Big Brother Winner 'Evel Dick' Donato Comes Out as HIV Positive: VIDEO

Donato

In a new episode for Couples Therapy, volatile troublemaker and Big Brother 8 winner "Evel Dick" Donato revealed he is HIV positive - news he originally found out while competing as a returning player during the reality competition's 13th season back in 2011.

Big Brother fans will remember Donato leaving the game on Day 6 that season for undisclosed reasons. 

People reports:

Donato was competing on season 13 of Big Brother when producers called him into the house's Diary Room. "They told me that something was wrong with my blood test," he says. "They had done two HIV tests. One had come back positive and the other had come back negative." The show's doctor took more blood. Two hours later, Donato learned the life-changing news. "When they told me, I just went numb," he says. With little explanation, Donato left the show. "They had a car take me from CBS to my mother's house. She was the first person I told." 

"My biggest fear was telling my girlfriend," Donato continues. "We had this long discussion, and I figured she would freak out. But she was really understanding about the whole thing. She said, 'Whatever happens, we'll face it together.' She was tested and it came back negative. It was an incredible relief." 

Donato doesn't know how he contracted the disease, but he suspects that it happened during unprotected sex with a woman. "People are going to make assumptions about how I got it, and that's okay," he says. "People are afraid to come forward because they're afraid of the stigma of HIV. I'm not gay and I've never stuck a needle in my arm, but at this point, it doesn't matter. We create a stigma around the disease that makes it hard for people to publicly say they have it."

In the end, Donato said he decided to go public with his status becuase his platform as a reality-show villain could help him to encourage fans and viewers to be more aware of HIV, practice safe sex, and get tested. 

Check out a clip of Donato's interview on Couples Therapy, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Notorious Big Brother Winner 'Evel Dick' Donato Comes Out as HIV Positive: VIDEO" »


NYC Health Department Using Grindr & Scruff To Spread Word About PrEP

DaskalakisDr. Demetre Daskalakis, the New York City health department’s assistant commissioner for HIV/AIDS control and prevention, is using Grindr and Scruff to bring the city’s push for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to gay mens’ pockets. In addition to social networks like Facebook and Twitter the city is rolling out an expansive $500,000 ad campaign encouraging people to learn about and consider taking Truvada, the first PrEP drug to be approved by the FDA.

"There's not a lot of doctors who can say, 'I've done thousands of HIV [blood] tests with my hands in dark sex clubs,' " Daskalakis, who describes himself as a ‘gay health warrior,’ said to Newsday. "I have done that."

Part of the city’s plan is to target young black and latino men, a population that public health officials have identified as being disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. The push to spread awareness is one of three key components to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Bending the Curve” initiative meant to eradicate new HIV infections in the state by 2020.

Backlash from PrEP opponents have followed as the city began rolling out advertisements extolling the drug as a means of combating the virus.

Weinstein"The first order of business in medical ethics is 'do no harm,' and what the New York City Health Department's doing is doing harm,” said Michael Weinstein [pictured], president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “There are people who are going to take this drug intermittently, who are going to think they're protected, who are going to not be protected.”

Daskalakis admits that PrEP is far from being a silver bullet to stemming the HIV/AIDS health crisis. Rather than zeroing in on the ways in which PrEP isn’t a complete solution, however, he’s bullish on the idea of PrEP as part of a holistic public health approach.

"Could there be an increased rate of STIs? Yeah. Absolutely. Ultimately PrEP is a harm-reduction approach, not a harm-elimination approach. We're not going to say we love it, but at least we have something for you."


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