Study paves way for HIV drugs to be taken monthly rather than daily

A combination of two powerful antibodies could suppress HIV
for several months at a time, freeing patients from a daily drug regimen, a small clinical trial has found.

Story via The Telegraph

Researchers at Rockefeller University in the United States found that broadly neutralising antibodies, or bNAbs, kept the deadly virus at bay for an average of 21 weeks among participants with relatively low levels of HIV in their bloodstream. 

But while the trial was small, with 11 participants and nine responding to the treatment, the results represent the first step in the process to develop HIV drugs which do not need to be administered on a daily basis. Currently, people with HIV have to take antiretroviral (ARV) drugs on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.

“This is the first study that combines these antibodies and shows that suppression can be maintained for long periods of time,” Dr Marina Caskey, associate professor of clinical investigation at Rockefeller University, told The Telegraph

“The results are very exciting, and open up lots of possibilities to explore in this field of research.”

While ARVs work almost perfectly in the clinical trials, in the real world success is less clear cut, with patients often forgetting to take their medication or being unable to afford it.

Not only does this endanger the individual, but it also increases the chance of HIV spreading. 

The US Agency for International Development would like to see 90 per cent of people with HIV on biological suppression medication, said Dr Caskey. “But that varies hugely – in the US the average is just 50 per cent.

“If people could go from taking drugs every day to every three, four, even six months – that would make a real impact in increasing treatment rates,” she said. 

Previous studies have shown that treatment with a single bNAb can reduce levels of HIV in the blood. However, efforts to control the virus for extended periods were unsuccessful as HIV mutated and became resistant to the antibodies. 

But the new study, published in Nature Medicine, suggests that by using two antibodies resistance is avoided. If larger trials confirm the finding, the therapy could have the potential to transform HIV treatment. 

“If everything happens as planned, we would hope for our antibody therapy to be approved as a treatment in the next five years,” said Dr Caskey. 

At the moment, however, using antibodies is incredibly expensive. But analysis by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has suggested that the treatment could be cost effective  if researchers can demonstrate that one gram of antibodies can suppress HIV for a year and can be manufactured for under US$100. 

If successful, researchers hope that the antibodies could be used to prevent HIV developing, as well as treating existing cases. 

“The goal would be to take such treatment to Sub-Saharan Africa”, said Dr Caskey. “We’re optimistic, but this would be years down the line. This is just the first step.”

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Community based sexual health promotion

Leicester City Council buys services to raise awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV in order to help prevent the spread of these infections and help people remain healthy.

Community based services (like LASS, Trade and St Peters Health Centre) currently:

  • Provide safe sex advice and information within local community venues
  • Raise awareness of risky sexual behaviour
  • Provide HIV / STI testing within local communities
  • Provide 1-2-1 support for men and women regarding their sexuality or stigma
  • Promote sexual health via the most appropriate means in the way that is best for each different community (for example, outreach work, social media, etc).
  • Provide community based POCT* tests using standards and training provided by the specialist sexual health services.
  • These services are available for all but targeted at specific communities.

*Point of care testing (POCT). Community organisations will be able to undertake HIV tests in a community venue and give people their results from these tests within half an hour. This would be done under guidance and advice from the doctors and nurses in the sexual health service. If positive a full test would be undertaken by a clinical service to confirm the test.

Leicester City Council are proposing changes to the current service offered currently in Leicester and would like your views.

To access their online questionnaire, please visit this link.
https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/communications/sexual-health-services/

A ChatBot for sexual health

As part of a comic relief grant, Positive East are seeking to develop a chatbot designed to answer a range of sexual health related questions.We invite you to complete a survey at the link as a way to generate content to develop a chatbot (Karl) who will be able to answer and have dialogue around a range of different pieces of sexual health information- including PrEP.

The idea is to put all the contradictory information that is out there online into a conversational format (especially as the E-Service pushes everyone online).

Your though’s on Karl (Chat Bot) are most welcome.

Access the survey Here by clicking here

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Job Vacancy: IAG Training, Support & Outreach Worker

We are recruiting for a IAG Training, Support and Outreach Worker

  • Hours of Work:      37 Hours Per Week
  • Salary Band:            £18,000 – £22,000 (dependent upon qualifications & experience).

LASS/Well for Living are seeking an Information, Advice & Guidance Support and Outreach Worker to join our Direct Services team.  The successful candidate will hold a Level 5 qualification or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as Adult Social Care and will have knowledge of HIV issues, the need and the services available to support people affected by HIV.    In addition, the successful candidate must be able to demonstrate the following competences:

  • Ability to manage own workload, set priorities and identify opportunities in service delivery, assisting as necessary.
  • To contribute to case studies and contract outcomes on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
  • High level communication skills and ability to sensitively deal with issues effectively within groups and individuals.
  • Ability to set up and run individual and group work sessions in relation to improving life experiences.
  • Understanding the concept of wellbeing and how this impacts on everyday living in relation to people living with HIV using a range of interventions.
  • Self- supporting in reporting, administration and ICT.
  • Ability to drive and preferably the use of own vehicle.

Other responsibilities include:

Contribute to the development of a new business in Adult Social Care for our Social Enterprise; Well for Living.

Deadlines and Interview date

If you are interested in being considered for this post please complete and return the application form below and return to Tom Robson (tom@lass.org.uk) by the closing date of Friday, 27th July 2018 at 12:00 noon.  Shortlisted candidates will be advised on the afternoon of Friday, 27th July 2018.  Interviews will be held on Wednesday 1st August 2018.

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UK PrEP IMPACT trial announces 3000 new places for gay men but low uptake by women, African and transgender people

The UK PrEP impact trial has increased the number of people of trial places from 10,000 to 13,000 people. This means that clinics that were previously closed to recruitment might now have new places available.

This news was announced in the June 2018 update from the trial management board. [1]

The increase is needied to more accurately estimate the likely long term needs of a routinely commissioned PrEP programme. The increase in trial size will require resource commitments from commissioners and local authority and NHS England commissioners have supported the principle of an increase in the trial size. 

Other information in the update included:

  • More than 7000 people are currently enrolled
  • The previous goal of keeping 2000 places for people form groups other than gay men is being reduced to 1000 places. This is freeing 1000 more places for gay men, who have so far generated the highest interest and demand.
  • As of 17 May, of the 139 clinics participating in the trial, 138 are open to recruitment for gay and bisexual men. All bar one of the London clinics also remained open to recruitment. 
  • The study management will now be run by the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. this should not impact on the supply of PrEP drug to current participants or delays in enrolling new participants as this was all being managed locally by individual clinics.
  • Community involvement has included workshops to publicise the study.
  • Preparation for future commissioning arrangements is also being considered.

The next meeting of the Board will take in July. A further update on progress will be shared after that meeting.

For further information on the trial please visit the trial website. [2]

Reference

  1. UK PrEP IMPACT trial update (June 2018)
    https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/spec-services/npc-crg/blood-and-infection-group-f/f03/prep-trial-updates/#january
  2. https://www.prepimpacttrial.org.uk

Want more on PrEP? Click Here

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HIV Awareness Training

DESCRIPTION

This course covers HIV and is intended to provide a good level of HIV awareness in the community. It will also provide indepth knowledge of treatment, up to date best practice and knowledge of STIs and their management.

It will help to improve your knowledge to current national standards.

Our course is highly recommended for those who work or live with people who live with HIV, for support staff who’s clientele live with HIV or for individuals who would like refresher training on the subject. This is a 4 hour course at The Michael Wood Centre where LASS is based.

Location & DATE / TIME

  • The Michael Wood Centre, 53 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 6YF
  • Wed 27 June 2018
  • 11:00 – 15:00 BST
  • BOOK ONLINE

Learning Objectives

  • Learn more about HIV/AIDS and why it is still an issue in 2018
  • Testing, Treatment, Prevention and Care
  • Reflect on our own beliefs, perceptions and experiences of HIV
  • HIV Stigma and Discrimination
  • Familiarise ourselves with HIV/AIDS in a UK context

HIV: the facts

  • HIV and AIDS
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Treatment and Care
  • Human Rights and HIV

Prevention

  • Testing
  • PEP
  • PREP
  • Test and Treat
  • Treatment as Prevention (TasP)
  • Condoms & Lube/Femidoms – How, Where, When and Why?

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Is There Still Room for HIV Prevention and Education at Pride?

HIV Testing Truck at Chicago Pride (Credit: W. Imara Canady)

It seems as if many great things are sparked by conflict. The civil rights movement was birthed from years of racism, violence, and subjugation. The women’s movement followed the same path and pursuit of equality. And LGBTQ pride is no exception. In 1969, people tired of being marginalized, assaulted, and arrested decided to take a stand. Hence, the Stonewall riots ushered in a new phase of LGBTQ liberation. A year later, on June 28,1970, Christopher Street Liberation Day took place in New York. Chicago actually one-upped the Big Apple by having a Gay Pride parade the day before that same year.

Article via TheBody.com , the complete HIV/AIDS Resource.

The reasons to go to a pride festival are as wide and vast as the number of prides themselves. Some attend for the parties. Others love having access to arts and culture scenes. Many prides debut new films with LGBT themes as part of their programming. Today, pride celebrations take place in almost every major city in the U.S. and many across the world. But one of the mainstays of pride might be changing: HIV prevention and awareness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of new HIV diagnosis in 2016 reached 39,782. Although this is a decline from previous years, it shows large vulnerabilities among certain groups. African Americans were hit hard, accounting for 17,528 of those diagnoses. The number of transmissions also leans heavily on the LGBTQ population, with 26,570 transmissions occurring among men who have sex with men (MSM). The CDC has also reported that 2,351 transgender people were diagnosed with HIV between 2009 and 2014. According to its estimates, about 22%-28% of trans women are HIV positive and over half of black trans women are HIV positive.

For many, prides have been a place for education and information on HIV — and testing.

“It’s interesting in the case of black prides in particular,” Earl D. Fowlkes Jr., president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, said in a phone interview. “The purpose of pride was to disseminate AIDS information for MSM. That was one of the major goals.”

Fowlkes reflected back on 28 years ago when D.C. Black Pride was just getting started. He continued, “We knew about New York and LA. We wanted to get information into the hands of people dying with the disease in D.C.”

Over the years, Fowlkes, who works with several pride organizations around the world, has noticed a shift in attitude about the inclusion of HIV messages in the celebrations.

“It’s not in the forefront anymore,” Fowlkes said. “There’s a little AIDS fatigue.”

Les Pappas, president of Better World Advertising (a company that has created HIV-prevention marketing campaigns for more than 20 years), has had a similar experience with perceptions about HIV prevention and campaigns to engage audiences.

“To me, it’s more about the community, how the messages have shifted,” Pappas said. “I can remember, going back to 1984-85, prides were very sad affairs, and people were also frightened. There was so much memorializing. There hadn’t been a lot of advances in the early days.”

Pappas said that HIV outreach has mostly shifted to virtual spaces. “In past years, half the booths at pride would be HIV focused. Now, a lot of our efforts around HIV have moved online.”

In addition to targeting the web and apps, education campaigns’ focus has itself changed.

“There is more focus around clinics and treatments,” Pappas said. “We have gotten to the point where the biggest focus is providing people with medicine either providing [treatment or for] prevention. It’s done year round.”

“We did a float in San Francisco — a PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] pill,” Pappas said. “That is where things are, and the medicalization of [HIV] has changed the dynamic.”

W. Imara Canady, regional director of communications and community engagement with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and Southern Bureau chair, Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition, said that testing is one part of HIV prevention and education that has remained during prides.

“We are actually seeing that being involved with prides is still a great way to connect,” Canady said in a phone interview. “At L.A. Pride just last week, we tested 1,000 individuals.”

Canady continued: “[A] lot of it is the placement of where the testing spaces are. We are also marketing in a very non-traditional ways. We are using mobile testing units that don’t feel like you’re going to the hospital van. We make it a hip space to get tested. Really, what we’re working to do is make testing a part of the culture,” Canady said, “to normalize testing in these communities and creative spaces.”

Due to changes in HIV prevention and treatment, Pappas sees a shift in the services offered at pride, not necessarily the relevance of prides themselves as tools to reach people.

“As a dinosaur in this, I remember when there was no test,” Pappas said. “After that, there was no effective treatment. After treatments came online, PrEP was a game changer. We’re at a stage in our communities where it’s becoming about access. The bigger issue for the larger portion of the community, by and large, is being able to take advantage of these new developments.”

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