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News in brief

Published: 22 October 2012

Summaries of news from the last quarter. For full news reports and references to the original sources, visit www.aidsmap.com/news.

Funding cut for HIV phonelines

The Department of Health has stopped funding the HIV phone helplines operated by Terrence Higgins Trust (THT Direct) and the Black Health Agency (BHA), and contraception advice lines run by fpa and Brook. Funds will now go to a national Sexual Health Line at 0800 567 123 – the former National AIDS Helpline number – run by the private company Serco.  The BHA’s I Do it Right phone line closed at the end of September. THT Direct (0808 802 1221) will continue but will no longer run at weekends. Its new hours are 10am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2533765

Double doses don’t mar adherence

An Italian study has found that people’s adherence to their antiretroviral therapy (ART) was not affected by how many pills they had to take or even whether they were prescribed one or two doses a day. The study of 2114 patients in Milan found that 79% reported taking all their ART doses and that this was independent of pill burden or dose frequency. The continued importance of adherence was underlined, however, by finding that average adherence was 95% in those with an undetectable viral load and 88% in people with detectable HIV.

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2530789

Africans get more HIV in the UK than previously thought

Over 40% of sub-Saharan Africans recently diagnosed with HIV in Britain may have become infected here rather than in Africa, new figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggest. The HPA’s previous estimates were based on people’s own views on where they got HIV, and reported that in the 2004-10 period, about 10% of black African people were infected over here.  But when they used CD4 cell count to estimate the time of infection, the HPA found that 31% had probably already arrived in the UK before becoming HIV positive and that this proportion increased to 43% in 2010.   

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2524386

Condoms only protect if used properly

A US study has found that using condoms in heterosexual sex prevents 60% of infections by the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonas. However, consistent condom use wasn’t good enough: only people who reported no breakage or slippage in condoms were protected. The proportion of people who caught at least one of the STIs in a year was 8.5% in people with inconsistent or no condom use, 6.7% in people who used them consistently, and 3.35% in people who used them consistently and correctly. In the group who used condoms consistently but said they slipped or broke sometimes, STI incidence was as high as in inconsistent users.

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2522036

New injectable drug shows promise

A new integrase inhibitor called S/GSK1265744 is active against a broad range of HIV strains that have developed resistance to this class, the 52nd ICAAC in San Francisco was told last month. This third-generation integrase inhibitor can also be formulated as an injectable drug with a single jab lasting a month or more. A trial is now underway combining the new drug with the injectable formulation of the NNRTI drug rilpivirine, which also lasts a month. Meanwhile, a study comparing the second-generation integrase inhibitor dolutegravir with efavirenz found that 88% of patients on dolutegravir-based ART had undetectable viral loads after 48 weeks, compared with 81% on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC).

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2279476

Women’s adherence drops after giving birth

A meta-analysis of 51 studies involving 20,000 women from the US and Africa has found that their average adherence to ART dropped to levels likely to be ineffective after they gave birth. At 76% (i.e. one-in-four doses missed), adherence was not very high during pregnancy, but it dropped to 53% once the women had become mothers. In this case, frequency of ART dosage and pill burden did impact on adherence, as did poverty, alcohol or drug use, but the strongest predictor of poor adherence was postnatal depression.

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2521871   

HIV treatment cuts depression

When people start HIV treatment, their risk of common non-AIDS-related illnesses such as depression, anxiety, liver disease, cancers, kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes also declines, Spanish researchers have found. In the study, of 5185 people diagnosed between 2004 and 2010, the incidence of AIDS-related and non-AIDS-related illnesses was about the same – 2.5 to 3% a year – but most AIDS cases were overwhelmingly concentrated in the first three months after diagnosis. Starting treatment reduced the annual incidence of non-AIDS-related illness by 29% over the study period. Notably, there were bigger falls in the incidence of mental health problems including depression (which formed 20% of all non-AIDS diagnoses) and kidney disease.

For the full news report see: www.aidsmap.com/page/2531806

News picks from other sources

As well as writing our news reports, our team of editors regularly select news from other sources for the news pages of our website. Here is a small selection of recent examples. For more of these, visit www.aidsmap.com/news

AIDS aids Salmonella

Salmonella may be evolving by using people with HIV as a low-immunity environment in which to develop, UK researchers found. A new, more virulent form, invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella, is linked to the spread of HIV around Africa. For the full news report, visit the New Scientist website: http://bit.ly/St4BHX

Condoms aren’t enough, says Canada

Using a condom or having an undetectable viral load alone are not enough to protect you from the law if you have sex without disclosing your HIV status, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled. Both conditions must have been complied with. For the full news report, visit The Vancouver Sun website: http://bit.ly/R560RP

No treatment boon for poor US blacks

The death rate in poorly educated black people with HIV in the US has not declined since before the introduction of HIV therapy, a US study has found. In contrast, deaths have fallen tenfold in US whites and well-educated black people since 1993. For the full news report, visit the US News website: http://bit.ly/Qao5ho

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.