Monthly Archives: July 2012

HIV-prevention drug Truvada approved by US

In international news today, US health regulators have for the first time approved a drug to prevent HIV infection.

Truvada is already used in combination with other drugs to treat HIV-positive patients

Truvada can be used by those at high risk of infection and anyone who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Studies showed the drug reduced the risk of contracting HIV by up to 73%.

Some health workers and groups active in the HIV community opposed a green light for the once-daily pill.

There have been concerns the circulation of such a drug could engender a false sense of security and mean people will take more risks. There have also been fears that a drug-resistant strain of HIV could develop.

In a statement, the FDA stressed that the drug should be used as part of a “comprehensive HIV prevention plan”, including condom use and regular HIV testing.

In May, an advisory group of health experts recommended approval for the pill.

Truvada, made by California-based Gilead Sciences, is already backed by the FDA to be taken with existing antiretroviral drugs for people who have HIV.

Studies from 2010 showed that Truvada reduced the risk of HIV in healthy gay men – and among HIV-negative heterosexual partners of HIV-positive people – by between 44% and 73%.

Michael Barton of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, said there was good trial evidence that the drug could significantly cut the risk of the infection being passed on, but only if the tablets are taken consistently.

Many of the men in the trials did not take the drug regularly enough to get the full protection.

He said that, in most circumstances, it would be better to treat the HIV-positive partner in the couple rather than focus on the HIV-negative one.

“We know that for HIV-positive people if they consistently take antiretroviral drugs and their viral load is suppressed for them it’s almost impossible to transmit the virus.”

Antiretroviral drugs will also prolong their life.

But he said the new drug might be useful in situations where, for example, a woman has a partner with HIV who is unwilling to take antiretrovirals or use condoms.

Truvada is approved in the UK for the treatment of HIV, but not prevention.

Above article via BBC News


Condoms provide the best protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It was identified in the early 1980s and it belongs to a group of viruses called retroviruses.

Normally, the body’s immune system would fight off an infection, but HIV prevents the body’s immune system from working properly. HIV infects key cells in the body’s natural defences called CD4 cells, which co-ordinate the body’s response to infection. Many CD4 cells are destroyed by being infected, and some stop working as they should.

Although HIV can’t be cured, it can be treated. Modern HIV treatment means that many people with HIV are living long, healthy lives and can look forward to a near-normal lifespan.

If HIV isn’t treated, the gradual weakening of the immune system leaves the body vulnerable to serious infections and cancers which it would normally be able to fight off. These are called ‘opportunistic infections’ because they take the opportunity of the body’s weakened immunity to take hold.

If someone with HIV develops certain opportunistic infections, they are diagnosed as having AIDS. The term ‘AIDS’ stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. People diagnosed as having AIDS can become unwell with a range of different illnesses, depending on the specific opportunistic infections they develop. This is why AIDS is not considered a disease, but a syndrome – a collection of different symptoms and illnesses, all caused by the same virus, HIV.

Most people who have HIV have not had an AIDS diagnosis. Also, if someone develops an AIDS-defining illness this doesn’t mean that they are on a one-way path to illness and death. Thanks to HIV treatment, many people who were once diagnosed as having AIDS are now living long and healthy lives.


If you’re interested in having a HIV test, we offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test. We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories. The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies. We also have a mobile testing van which is often out in communities providing mobile rapidHIV tests. Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995


If you feel you’ve recently been at risk of HIV infection, you may wish to consider PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis).  PEP must be started as soon as possible after unsafe sex or a condom not working, (i.e. straight after exposure or within 24 hours is best and no later than 72 hours/3 days)

PEP stands for Post Exposure Prophylaxis and is a treatment that may prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body.

You can find out more about PEP from this link or speak with one of our team if you have any questions, we’re happy to offer help and advice.

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Teenagers living with HIV show what life’s like in their shoes


A still from Undefeated

Next Sunday thousands of HIV activists, politicians and professionals will gather in Washington DC to assess the global state of the pandemic, advances in treatment and care, and assert their collective vision for the future.

That Aids 2012, the 19th international Aids conference, is being held in Washington is particularly resonant. Until Barack Obama overturned a 22-year-old ban in 2009, people living with HIV were denied entry to the US.

The prevalence of HIV in the city itself is also astonishing – not only is it the highest HIV rate in America, it is one of the highest in the world, rivalling areas of sub-Saharan Africa. While HIV is often associated with specific regions, the reality is that it is a global pandemic, with its profound impact felt globally, including in the UK.

In some areas of our country, especially London, HIV prevalence rates are higher than in countries more regularly associated with the epidemic such as Thailand, and UK rates continue to rise. Although medication to control the virus is readily accessible, one in four people living with HIV are not aware that they have the virus, and those who are often contend with poverty, social isolation and the impact of the stigma surrounding the condition – a stigma that is still active in workplaces, communities and schools.

A group of young people living with the condition from the London-based HIV charity Body & Soul are very aware of the impact of HIV and stigma. They will be taking their own brand of activism and a much-needed youth perspective to the conference.

Since 1996, Body & Soul has been a trailblazer in providing bespoke psychosocial support to children, teenagers and families living with HIV. We have built a community of members who inspire and support one another in a safe space. It’s a place where they can share hopes and anxieties as well as accessing diverse professional support, from counselling to CV workshops, legal advice, sex and relationships discussions and parenting forums.

Body & Soul’s expertise in working with young people living with HIV led to the development in 2011 of its campaign Life in my Shoes (Lims), which will be the focus of the group’s activities in Washington. It is a pioneering project that they hope will engender empathy among all young people (not just those personally affected by HIV), encouraging them to accept and embrace difference.

Lims is a sophisticated multiplatform campaign boasting a short film, photographs shot by Rankin and endorsements from the likes of Annie Lennox, Dr Christian Jessen and Blake Harrison of The Inbetweeners. When the educational resource central to the campaign is launched later this year, students will take part in classes that are engaging and informative.

Miles away from uncomfortable sex education lessons, these sessions will inspire young people to improve their knowledge of HIV while promoting increased understanding of life in one another’s shoes.

The centrepiece of Lims is Undefeateda 35-minute film charting a day in the shoes of a London schoolgirl, and drawing directly from experiences of members of Teen Spirit, Body & Soul’s group for 13-to-19-year-olds affected by HIV. Premiered in May at the Cannes film festival, it will be screened in Washington, allowing their message of empathy to reach beyond UK audiences.

The film shows the secrecy and courage demanded from such young people. For Peter, one of the Lims ambassadors attending the conference, this is why the campaign is so powerful and why it has the potential to inspire change.

“At school, I’d overhear people joking about catching Aids or worrying they’d get HIV from kissing,” he says. “I’d want to correct them but worried I’d be giving away my own status by doing so. For thousands of young people in the UK, we’ve already begun the process of changing minds and attitudes, and I can’t wait to start spreading the Lims message internationally.”

The conference theme of Aids 2012 is “Turning the tide together”. Peter and the others travelling to Washington hope to be at the forefront of a movement that seeks to transform attitudes and inspire change in the UK, and globally.

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