Multipurpose prevention technologies for HIV and STIs in spotlight at AIDS 2014

Dr Elizabeth Bukusi, KEMRI
Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Women of reproductive age have a need for prevention of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, and family planning methods. More importantly, women need prevention tools/methods that are under their control and do not leave them at the mercy of their partner, in as far as their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is concerned. Dr Elizabeth Bukusi, Deputy Director (Research and Training), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) spoke to Citizen News Service (CNS) at 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014).

Alarm rings on low uptake of existing prevention options for anal STIs and HIV

Bobby Ramakant, CNS Special Correspondent
[Images] Despite overall progress in HIV prevention, rates of HIV infection among key affected populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people remain alarmingly high. For example, recent data indicates that MSM are up to 19 times more likely to have HIV than the general population – transgender women are almost 50 times more likely. Overall new HIV infection rates have dipped by 26% in Asia and the Pacific region since 2001,but not for MSM and transgender. 

Drug Adherence Leads To Successful TB Treatment

Photo credit: Owen Nyaka
Owen Nyaka, CNS Correspondent, Malawi
“God is mysterious. I was nearly incapacitated by the TB infection since I could not do anything apart from sleeping in agony every day at home, my children were greatly affected by my illness because am the bread winner. My life is now back to normal,” says Eveless.

'When bacteria and virus can work so well together, why can't we?'

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
[Images] Setting the pace for the press conference, Dr IS Gilada, President, AIDS Society of India, emphasized that collaborative activities between national TB and HIV programmes can help maximise strengthen public health outcomes. He said if HIV programmes do not pay adequate attention to TB, or TB programmes ignore HIV, then the progress made in responding to HIV and TB gets threatened.

Future Milestones Of HIV Treatment and Cure

Prakash Tyagi, CNS Correspondent 
“How come we have been able to bring everything that life needs into one mobile phone device and can keep it in our pockets, but can not find a cure for HIV,” asked a young man to Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinnousi, Nobel Laureate and Co Chair of the ongoing 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne.

Police, Sex workers and People Who Use Drugs

Ishdeep Kohli, CNS Correspondent
“While public health officials call sex workers and drug users ‘hard-to-reach populations,’ police have little trouble finding them,” said Daniel Wolfe, Director of the Open Society International Harm Reduction Development Programme.

Stigma blocks access to care for young gays and transgenders

Phillip, Gautam and Hender: YVC
Stigma related to HIV not only blocks access to existing services for key affected populations but also increases risk of HIV acquisition manifold. When self-stigma or shame seeps in, it pushes people into depression, aggression, self-harm, addictions or even suicide. HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the community further escalates self-stigma. At 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), young men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people shared their experiences of external and internalized stigma they face.

Call to step up the pace of TB-HIV collaborative activities

CNS Image Library: AIDS 2010
 Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
“We must focus upon individual human beings rather than on individual diseases of TB and HIV. A person centric approach is bound to work together than a disease centric approach,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director, Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at a high level WHO consultation, held in conjunction with 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), to discuss policies to catalyze the response for elimination of TB deaths among people living with HIV (PLHIV).

'Every TB-HIV case is a public health failure...'

CNS Image Library: AIDS 2010
Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
So said Helen Ayles. She was quoted by Dr Diane Havlir who was speaking in the plenary of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Diane Havlir who is a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, was hopeful that "Every HIV/TB case prevented and every death averted should become a public health success and put us one step closer to ending the dual epidemic of HIV and TB."

Break the silos: drug use, HIV, HCV, TB, laws and funding

CNS image library: AIDS 2010
Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Viet Nam is one of the countries in the world that has made remarkable progress over the last decade in not only making harm reduction and HIV services available and accessible for people who use drugs but also reforming laws for supportive health policies on the ground. Khuat Thi Hai Oanh who leads Centre for Supportive Community Development Initiatives (SCDI) in Viet Nam, was a plenary speaker at 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia.

Are we hyping infection control inside clinics?

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious bacterial disease and spreads through the air. When people with pulmonary TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air and a person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. On the other hand, HIV/AIDS is a viral disease that is transmitted chiefly through unprotected sexual intercourse and  contaminated blood. Yet there is a deadly synergy between the two, with people living with HIV (PLHIV) being 30 times more likely to develop TB and one in every five deaths in them being attributable to TB.

Australia reinforces its commitment in fight against AIDS

Bobby Ramakant, CNS Special Correspondent
Australia has taken a lead in supporting public health in India over the years. With XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) being held in Melbourne, Citizen News Service (CNS) interviewed Bernard Philip, Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to India. "The conference is providing an opportunity to showcase Australia's leadership in the global HIV response, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. Over the past decade, Australia has provided over AUD 1 billion to support HIV-specific programmes in developing countries, and responding to HIV remains a priority for the Australian Government" said Philip.

New Drug Regimen: A miracle treatment for TB is a near possibility

Shobha Shukla, CNS Columnist
Two years after launching a first of its kind Combination Drug Study for TB treatment in 2010, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) raised hopes of a novel drug regimen to treat both forms of TB—drug sensitive (DS) and multi drug resistant (MDR) TB, at the XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, offering a new paradigm in TB treatment to treat patients with drugs to which they are sensitive, rather than based on what they are resistant to.

Will going digital expand mechanisms to engage young HIV key populations?

Bobby Ramakant, CNS Special Correspondent
Joe Rich, Midnight P, Kent Klindera
With increasing use of and access to internet in developing countries, digital tools provide another added way to engage HIV key populations, particularly young people. Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) is managing an initiative in few South East Asian cities such as Bangkok (Thailand), Chengdu (China), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Jakarta (Indonesia), Manila (Philippines), and Yangon (Myanmar) to use digital tools to encourage young men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people to test, and opt for repeated HIV testing regularly. Initial pilot is being done in Bangkok (TestBKK) since April 2014.