News from the 2018 International Liver Congress

Direct-acting antivirals bring fewer HCV-related liver transplants, better survival after transplantation, in Europe

There has been a steep fall in the number of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver transplants since the introduction of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), according to European research presented to the 2018 International Liver Congress in Paris. The decline was especially evident in people with HCV-related decompensated cirrhosis. Survival among people with HCV receiving a new liver also improved dramatically.

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Eight weeks of treatment with Epclusa cured almost all people with HCV receiving opioid substitution therapy

An eight-week course of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir (Epclusa) cured almost all people with hepatitis C genotype 3 without cirrhosis receiving treatment alongside opioid substitution therapy through community pharmacies or prisons in the Greater Glasgow area, Alison Boyle of Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, reported at the conference.

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New affordable hepatitis C combination shows 97% cure rate

The combination of sofosbuvir and the new NS5A inhibitor ravidasvir cured 97% of people with hepatitis C in a study carried out in Malaysia, and could provide a safe and effective cure for hepatitis C in low- and middle-income countries for $300 or less, researchers of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative reported on the opening day of the conference.

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More news from CROI 2018

Researchers puzzle over whether HIV accelerates cancer progression

Although people living with HIV may be diagnosed with cancer at an earlier stage because they get more consistent care than the general population, it is also possible that a higher likelihood of late cancer diagnosis among people with HIV is an indication that HIV may accelerate cancer progression, according to research presented at the 25th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2018) last month in Boston.

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8-week course of Zepatier cures acute HCV in people with HIV

An 8-week course of grazoprevir/elbasvir (Zepatier) produced sustained virological response in most HIV-positive gay men with recent hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 or 4 infection, according to a presentation at the conference.

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Other aidsmap news

First-line ART failure common among hospitalised HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa

A large proportion of hospitalised HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced the failure of first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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More time with depression increases the risk of death for women with HIV

Increased time living with depression is associated with a higher risk of death for women with HIV, according to US research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. During five years of follow-up, each 365 days – consecutive or intermittent – with depression increased mortality risk by 72%. A cumulative total of just 90 days with depression had a significant impact on the risk of death from any cause. The impact of cumulative duration of depression on mortality risk was independent of the severity of the most recent episode of depression.

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TAF only superior to TDF when used with a boosting agent

The benefits of tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) over tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) may have been overstated, according to the results of a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Virus Eradication. It was only when used in an antiretroviral therapy regimen containing a boosting agent that TAF was superior to TDF in terms of viral suppression and bone and renal side-effects. There was no difference between the safety and efficacy of TAF and TDF in the context of unboosted antiretroviral therapy.

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Non-consensual sex is a recurrent problem in the chemsex environment

The second European Chemsex Forum, recently held in Berlin, highlighted a number of difficulties and harms experienced by chemsex users, including non-consensual sex. “We have heard many stories of men who, during sexual marathons that last for days, pass out on GHB or GBL, while the sex continues to take place,” said Leon Knoops of the Dutch harm reduction organisation Mainline. “When they come around, they often have no recollection of what happened.”

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REALITY study shows which HIV-positive people with very low CD4 cell counts are at highest risk of dying soon after starting treatment

Mortality in people with a low CD4 cell count at the time of HIV diagnosis is associated with a group of risk factors including a high number of symptoms, weight loss, poor mobility, self-care issues and some abnormal laboratory findings, investigators report in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The study found that questions about fever, vomiting, weight loss, mobility and the ability to wash and dress oneself identified people in especially high need of same-day treatment initiation.

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Editors' picks from other sources

'The earlier you go, the longer you live': HIV self-testing in South Africa

from The Guardian

In a country where people with HIV suffer hugely from discrimination, the privacy afforded by self-testing is having a positive impact on rates of diagnosis and treatment.

UN agency chief under pressure to quit over handling of sexual assault inquiry

from The Guardian

The director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, is facing calls to resign over his handling of a recent sexual assault investigation. Three South African civil society groups have called for an independent inquiry into the agency’s leadership, while the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has written to António Guterres, the UN’s secretary general, calling for Sidibé to stand down.

Giant condoms and buckets of fake blood: the true story of AIDS activists Act Up

from The Guardian

The French film 120 Beats Per Minute depicts the urgency of the HIV/AIDS crisis through the eyes of the Paris branch of the radical campaigners. Members of the London branch recall what it was really like.

Grindr sets off privacy firestorm after sharing users’ HIV-status data

from New York Times

Grindr, the social network aimed at gay, bisexual and transgender men, is facing a firestorm of criticism for sharing users’ HIV status, sexual tastes and other intimate personal details with outside software vendors.The company said it would stop sharing HIV data with outside companies.

Why are there still so many AIDS-related deaths?

from Poz

A friend of mine, Antron-Reshaud Olukayode, died of an AIDS-related illness a few months ago. He was an Atlanta-based writer and HIV advocate. The news was quite a shock for me because an empowered person living with HIV isn’t supposed to die at age 33. Or so I believed.