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NAC Donates Mammogram Machine to Mpilo Hospital

Trust Govere

THE Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa today commissioned a digital mammogram machine for Mpilo Central Hospital. The machine which was donated by National AIDS Council will be used for early detection of breast cancer. The machine which costs around $500 000 was purchased by NAC using funds from the AIDS Levy. NAC

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Malawi: DHO Bemoans Pastors Who Mislead HIV Patients

Blantyre — The Blantyre District Health Office says the conduct of some pastors who proclaim to heal their followers from HIV/AIDS is increasing numbers of people defaulting from antiretroviral therapy (ART).

District health officer (DHO) Dr. Medson Matchaya has described the conduct unfortunate.

Matchaya said this in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) when he was commenting on some of the challenges the National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP) is facing in realizing the ambitious 90-90-90 treatment target.

He said the tendency is saddening and unfortunate because defaulting puts the life of the patient at risk since ART works better if it is taken consistently.

“If the client defaults on ART, his life is at risk as the virus builds up resistance to the medication.

Therefore, no matter how consistent in future he or she may be on ART, their body cannot respond to medication; as the result we are forced to change the type of drugs given to them,” he said.

Another challenge, according to Dr. Matchaya, is that the country does not have many types of ART drugs and when one develops resistance to the few drugs on the market, it becomes difficult to assist them medically.

“People should know that viral suppression beyond undetectable level does not mean that the virus has been eliminated but that the therapy is having effect on the body. They should not be fooled that they have been healed after being prayed for,” he said.

National Association for People living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi (Napham) executive director, Master Mphande, said there is need for all stakeholders to join hands if the nation is to achieve the 90:90:90 target by the year 2020.

“As Napham we want all stakeholders to play their part so that the NSP is achieved for the betterment of people living with HIV/aids

The national HIV prevention strategy adopted UNAID’S ambitious 90-90-90 target where the nation wants to diagnose 90 percent of all people living with HIV, start and retain 90 percent of those diagnosed on antiretroviral therapy and finally achieve viral suppression for 90 percent of people on ART.

More evidence treatment zeroes HIV transmission during sex while the world awaits a vaccine

By Meera Senthira Senthilingam, CNN

Paris (CNN) — The evidence is in and the message is clear: When someone is HIV positive, taking regular treatment can pretty much zero their chance of spreading the infection to others during sex.

Sexual transmission of HIV is negligible when someone is on treatment, whether they’re in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, according to results from previous studies and now a large-scale study of homosexual men, presented at the ninth International AIDS Conference on HIV Science in Paris on Tuesday.

HIV experts emphasized this aspect of prevention, highlighting the “Undetectable equals Untransmissible” campaign, during a press conference at the international meeting. The campaign works to encourage people worldwide to stay on treatment by ensuring they understand that doing so could mean they cannot infect others.

This message is not aligned with the status quo in terms of the care people infected with HIV receive today, believes Bruce Richman, founder and executive director of Prevention Access Campaign and the “Undetectable = Untransmittable” initiative. “This is transmission-stopping information,” he said.

New vaccine results have shown promise at the meeting this week and in recent studies, but are still far from becoming a reality to end the epidemic.

 

Overwhelming evidence

In the largest-ever trial on HIV transmission risk among homosexual men, Australian researchers explored the sex lives and HIV rates of more than 350 homosexual couples where one person is HIV positive. The couples were from Brazil, Thailand and Australia.

 

Each couple reported their sexual activity when visiting clinics involved in the trial and HIV-negative partners were regularly tested to diagnose any new infections.

The couples participating reported having sex almost 17,000 times without condoms between them over four years, and none of those times resulted in new infections.

“There was not a single linked HIV infection in these couples,” said Andrew Grulich, professor of epidemiology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, who led the study. “Nobody became infected from their partner.”

Three new infections were discovered during the trial, but analysis of the virus showed they had come from sex outside of the relationships, not from the person on treatment within the couple.

 

Sex without a condom is not necessarily advised, however, to prevent risk of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). “This (group) had very high STIs,” Grulich told CNN, adding that 20% of the men in the trial developed STIs each year, yet there were zero HIV infections.

Approximately 10% of men had STIs associated with anal sex, which experts had previously thought aided HIV transmission, Gulich said.

The new evidence builds on previous studies on couples where one partner is HIV positive and on treatment, including a landmark study in 2011 that found that treatment can prevent new infections among couples by 96% and a second study in Europe in 2016 showing no transmission at all.

Treatment as prevention is now recommended by the World Health Organization as a key component to include in HIV prevention programs,

The latest trial is the first to explore the benefits of treatment as prevention across multiple continents, showing this approach could be universally applicable. “We wanted to see if this could be applied in different settings where there are also HIV epidemics among homosexual men,” said Grulich.

An estimated 68% of new HIV infections in Australia in 2015 were among homosexual men, according to the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations.

The preventative effects are particularly strong due to the increased risk of transmission that comes with anal sex.

 

Protective, despite greater risk

“We know transmission risk by anal sex is approximately 10 times higher than risk by vaginal sex,” said Grulich, who feared this could lead to some infections during the trial. “This provides reassuring evidence that treatment is as effective in homosexual men,” he said.

 

HIV/AIDS Fast Facts

 

Related Article: HIV/AIDS Fast Facts

“This (study) is confirmation of something we have known for some time,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, within the US National Institutes of Health.

The fact that transmission risk is clearly greater by anal intercourse shows this is a powerful tool for prevention, he said. “Now is the time to push for it.”

International AIDS Society President Linda-Gail Bekker believes working to ensure more people get tested for HIV and therefore treated is a crucial component of the current fight against the virus, but not necessarily the immediate one.

“Let’s have a reductionist approach, but I think there is also lag in terms of treatment as prevention. You’ve got to get things up to scale,” she told CNN. In the meantime, she said, the services we already have for people who are uninfected to protect themselves should be pushed.

 

These currently available services include high-risk groups taking drugs to prevent infection, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), medical male circumcision, which can reduce transmission from women to men by 60%, and condom use. “That will curb the transmission rate more quickly” while we begin treatment as prevention and wait for it to become more widely available globally, she said.

Bekker used the example of Swaziland, where rates of HIV were reported on Monday to have dramatically declined since 2011, according to the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Swaziland has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, but new infections have almost halved since 2011, after providing treatment and male circumcision for more than 12 million people.

By the time these prevention options are extensively promoted and provided to those who need them, Bekker hopes a vaccine may then finally ready. This would truly eliminate the disease, rather than control it, she believes.

 

New vaccine promise

Results from a recent vaccine trial, known as the APPROACH trial, were presented at the conference Monday and revealed this type of vaccine could instigate an immune response against HIV when tested on almost 400 volunteers across five countries.

The type used were mosaic vaccines, where components of different HIV viruses are combined together to create an immune response in the body.

 

Being a 'superhero': The South African volunteers trialing a HIV vaccine

 

Related Article: Being a ‘superhero’: The South African volunteers trialing a HIV vaccine

Seven different regimens of the vaccine were tested and all elicited an immune response and were well tolerated in the body. One that previously showed promise in animals shined through, giving the strongest response in humans.

The researchers stress, however, that simply because an immune response was created does not mean it will prevent someone becoming infected with HIV.

“The promising, early-stage results from the APPROACH study support further evaluation of these candidate vaccines to assess their ability to protect those at risk of acquiring HIV,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, a principal investigator for APPROACH, in a statement.

 

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“A safe and effective HIV vaccine would be a powerful tool to reduce new HIV infections worldwide and help bring about a durable end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said Fauci, whose institute supported the trial. “By exploring multiple promising avenues of vaccine development research, we expand our opportunities to achieve these goals.”

Bekker added that this is one of three avenues currently being explored to create an effective vaccine against HIV, including one being trialed in her home country, South Africa. Whichever one wins the race, it can’t come fast enough.

“Finally, a vaccine will clean (HIV infections) up” after these prevention services are in place, she said. “And hopefully eliminate HIV.”

UNAIDS Board seizes opportunities of change to deliver results

UNAIDS Board seizes opportunities of change to deliver results

Board members unanimously approve US$ 484 million budget for 2018–2019

GENEVA, 30 June 2017—UNAIDS’ 40th Programme Coordinating Board meeting has concluded in Geneva, Switzerland. Important decisions were taken on redefining the ways in which the Joint Programme works to deliver results efficiently and effectively and continues to advance global efforts to end the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Board affirmed the UNAIDS Joint Programme Action Plan as a way to progressively move towards a refined operating model. The Action Plan strengthens the coherence and effectiveness of UNAIDS’ support to countries and presents clear results and deliverables on joint working, financing, accountability and governance. The Board members also welcomed the final report of the Global Review Panel on the Future of the UNAIDS Joint Programme Model.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, presented his report to the Board, which centred around seizing the opportunities of change in order to deliver results. He talked about the importance of understanding a rapidly changing world, threats to global health security and the need to end AIDS by 2030.

“Ending AIDS is our imperative. We must not let the changes happening around us bend our trajectory or slow us down,” said Mr Sidibé. “We need to connect the dots across issues, mandates and organizations in new ways, confront obstacles with innovation and transformation, reinforce the centrality of community engagement, Fast-Track our efforts to reach everyone in need and leave no one behind.”

Mr Sidibé also talked Board members through the programme of reform he has led over the past 12 months to reposition the UNAIDS Secretariat and realign to support countries in a new political and financial environment while continuing to ensure maximum support for the work of the entire Joint Programme.

During the meeting, Mr Sidibé called on the Board to consider gender equality in the governance of UNAIDS. The Board invited all delegations to continue to encourage and support equal representation of women and men in the Board.

UNAIDS has increased the percentage of women in country director positions from 27% in 2013 to 48% in 2017 through the Gender Action Plan, an initiative championed by the Deputy Executive Director, Jan Beagle, who has been appointed as the new United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Management, a position she will take up in July 2017 after eight years with UNAIDS.

The Board approved UNAIDS’ 2018–2019 core budget of US$ 484 million. Attentive to the critical importance of a well-resourced Joint Programme, Secretariat and Cosponsors, the Board also encouraged donor governments to make multiyear contributions and release their contributions towards the 2016–2021 Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF) as soon as possible. The Board also urged UNAIDS to continue expanding its donor base and encourage new donors to make contributions towards the full funding of the 2016–2021 UBRAF.

During the meeting, important funding announcements to UNAIDS were made by Germany, which pledged to double its contributions to UNAIDS to €5 million in 2017 and 2018, and by Board Chair Ghana who also announced that Ghana would be doubling its contributions to UNAIDS to US$ 200 000, demonstrating Ghana’s commitment to advancing global efforts to end AIDS.

Ghana also announced that, despite facing persistent challenges, including funding and commodity gaps, it will be adopting the 2015 World Health Organization guidelines to test and offer immediate treatment to all people living with HIV in Ghana as part of efforts to achieve the 90–90–90 targets. Ghana is also stepping up its HIV prevention efforts and has trained more than 150 000 teachers in public schools to integrate HIV education into their lessons and has trained 300 000 children as peer educators across the country.

The Board dedicated the final day to a thematic session on the urgent need to scale up HIV prevention. Participants shared best practices from around the world, identified gaps and opportunities in HIV prevention programming and funding and looked at ways of expanding services to people at higher risk of HIV through scaling up primary HIV prevention programmes at the national and local levels.

Representatives of United Nations Member States, international organizations, civil society and nongovernmental organizations attended the three-day meeting, which was chaired by the Minister of Health of Ghana, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland serving as Vice-Chair and Japan as Rapporteur. The keynote speech was given by Lorena Castillo de Varela, the First Lady of Panama and UNAIDS Special Ambassador for AIDS in Latin America, who gave a compelling address on her work around Zero Discrimination.

The UNAIDS Executive Director’s report to the Board and the Board’s decisions can be found at unaids.org

UNAIDS

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube