‘Science Speaks’ Blog Reports From 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog on Wednesday published a series of posts on the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, from Sunday to Wednesday. The following is a summary of those posts.

  • ART for life looks promising for women of Malawi”: Data from “Malawi’s bold experiment with Option B+ showed the country’s ‘ART for Life’ campaign led to a 763 percent increase in the number of pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy with a 49 percent increase in ART enrollment among this group during the last two quarters of 2012,” the blog writes, adding, “Beth Tippett Barr from the [CDC] in Malawi presented the outcomes Tuesday at the 20th [CROI], in Atlanta” (Lubinski, 3/6).
  • CROI plenary highlights TB progress, urges care in use of new drugs”: “Andreas Diacon from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town updated the audience at the 2013 CROI on Wednesday about the status and challenges in [tuberculosis (TB)] drug development,” according to the blog, which adds, “The good news is that while still inadequate, the TB drug pipeline is larger than it has been in decades” (Lubinski, 3/6).
  • CROI plenary: Without focus on MSM epidemic, ‘an AIDS-free generation is not going to be achievable’”: “Three decades after the AIDS epidemic was noted first among gay men, and after the toll, activism, contributions and sacrifices of gay men made possible the development of life-saving antiretroviral treatment, structural barriers to accessing that treatment faced by men who have sex with men worldwide continue to cost individuals opportunities to benefit from advances, to fuel the epidemic, and remain as an obstacle to turning the trajectory of the epidemic,” the blog reports, adding, “That was part of the message brought by Dr. Chris Beyrer to the plenary session Tuesday of the 20th [CROI] in Atlanta” (Barton, 3/6).
  • HIV Self-Testing and ART Initiation at Home: Promising Results from Blantyre Malawi”: “In an area with 18 percent HIV prevalence, an intervention that brought testing and treatment to residents’ homes produced encouraging data, presented Tuesday at a session on engagement in care at the 20th [CROI],” the blog writes, noting, “Peter MacPherson of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine presented the data from a cluster-randomized trial that took place between February and November 2012, in Blantyre, Malawi” (Lubinski, 3/6).
  • Lusaka study: Starting antiretroviral treatment keep patients coming back”: “For years, as the benefits of early treatment for HIV — including preventing illness and transmission — became clear, one of the caveats offered in return was that the earlier patients began to take antiretroviral drugs, the likelier they were to stop, and be lost to follow up care,” the blog notes, and continues, “Now a study from the [CDC] in Zambia with support from Zambia’s Ministry of Health has countered that thinking, demonstrating that early initiation of antiretroviral treatment among patients whose immune cell counts put them close to the threshold of eligibility for the medicine substantially improved retention of patients” (Barton, 3/6).
  • PEPFAR settings see impacts of testing, clinic size, gender on timely initiation of care”: “The percentage of patients who do not initiate care until their immune systems are already severely compromised or until they are suffering from HIV-related illnesses is dropping in four countries targeted by [PEPFAR] in sub-Saharan Africa, according to findings presented at the 20th [CROI] on Tuesday,” the blog reports (Barton, 3/6).
  • Project ACCEPT: More community-based testing and support = less HIV incidence”: “Scaling up of mobile community-based voluntary HIV counseling and testing and post-test support services can reduce HIV incidence at the community level, [according to] research results presented Tuesday at the 20th [CROI],” the blog writes, adding, “Presenting findings from Project ACCEPT (HPTN 043), Dr. Tom Coates highlighted a 14 percent decrease in HIV incidence in communities where community-based testing was scaled up, in a National Institutes of Mental Health-supported study evaluating whether a community-level intervention could change the trajectory of the epidemic at the community level in developing countries” (Weddle/Barton, 3/6).

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