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Dapivirine Vaginal Ring Study Fully Enrolled, New Technology Shows Promise

The Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) announced last week that the Phase 3 ASPIRE trial, testing a vaginal ring containing the NNRTI dapivirine for preventing sexual transmission of HIV, has completed enrollment with more than 2600 women. In related news, researchers reported promising findings from a study of a novel "pod" technology for delivering multiple drugs for HIV prevention in a vagina ring.

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Efavirenz Linked to Higher Suicide Risk, May Be Falling Out of Favor

The widely used NNRTI efavirenz was associated with a 2-fold increase in the likelihood of suicidal thoughts, attempted suicides, and suicide deaths, though the absolute risk remained small, according to a study described in the July 1 Annals of Internal Medicine. A related review article questioned whether efavirenz should still be considered a preferred option for initial HIV treatment, given its side effects and the development of equally effective and better-tolerated alternatives.

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Nearly 25% of HIV Diagnosed in Emergency Rooms Is Acute Infection

Only a small percentage of the more than 22,000 people tested for HIV at an emergency department in Phoenix were found to be infected, but of these nearly one-quarter had acute or recent infection, during which viral load is high and onward transmission is more likely, according to a study published in the June 22 advance edition of Annals of Emergency Medicine.

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HIV Cure Is a Major Priority, Research to be Presented at AIDS 2014

Finding a cure for HIV is a key scientific priority, and researchers have taken promising steps towards a "functional cure" that could enable some people with HIV to stay off antiretroviral therapy without disease progression. In the lead-up to the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) later this month in Melbourne, The Lancet has published a review of the global epidemic and prospects for the future.

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ASCO: Characteristics and Disparities of Care for HIV+ People with Lung Cancer

HIV positive people with lung cancer are diagnosed at a younger age and have shorter survival than HIV negative people, on average, suggesting that screening should perhaps be started earlier, according to studies presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) this month in Chicago.

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Health and Human Rights Advocates Call for Repeal of Syringe Funding Ban

More than 140 organizations involved in HIV and viral hepatitis advocacy, public health, harm reduction, and human rights sent an open letter last week calling on legislators to lift the federal ban on funding for needle and syringe exchange programs intended to curb the transmission of blood-borne diseases among people who inject drugs.

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ViiV Survey Reveals Gaps in Knowledge About HIV and its Treatment

A majority of HIV positive people in the U.S. who have not started antiretroviral therapy (ART) are unaware that treatment can prevent HIV transmission to their partners, and about one-third believe antiretroviral side effects are worse than HIV itself, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of ViiV Healthcare.

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June 27 Is National HIV Testing Day

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), an annual opportunity to promote HIV screening and awareness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 people with HIV do not know they are infected, and therefore are not receiving the care and treatment that could improve their own health and prevent transmission. The CDC this week issued new recommendations using modern technology to facilitate earlier diagnosis.

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Studies Reveal HIV and HCV Epidemics Among Injection Drug Users in the Middle East and North Africa

At least one-third of countries in the Middle East and North Africa that historically have had low rates of HIV infection now have emerging epidemics largely attributable to injection drug use, according to a systematic review published in the June 17 edition of the open access journal PLoS Medicine. Rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection also appear to be high and rising.

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