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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:25 pm 
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HIV epidemic declared in Russian city
1 November 2016

HIV has reached epidemic levels in Ekaterinburg, a city of almost 1.4 million people in the Russian Urals, local health officials declared on Tuesday.

Every 50th city resident is HIV-positive, said Tatyana Savinova, the first deputy head of the local department of health. Savinova said 1826 people out of every 100,000 of the population, or approximately 1.8% of the city's population, was HIV positive, and this is only according to the number of people tested and officially known to be affected. Savinova said 26,693 cases had been registered, with the real figure of unregistered carriers expected to be significantly higher.

"We have passed the stage when (HIV) infection reaches the general population long ago - when more than 1% of the population is affected," Savinova noted, according to Ura, a regional news portal.

HIV in Russia is spread primarily through shared use of needles by drug users (52% of cases) and through sexual contact (46% of cases), with sexual transmission taking place primarily during heterosexual contact, raising the threat of a much more rapid spread of infection among the general population.

Source: Ura

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:07 am 
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French AIDS drama earns best reviews yet at Cannes Film fest
By JAKE COYLE
20 May 2017

CANNES, France (AP) -- "120 Beats Per Minute," a French AIDS drama with a full heart and a pounding rhythm, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday and quickly joined the shortlist of favorites for the festival's coveted Palme d'Or prize.

Directed by Robin Campillo, the co-screenwriter of the Palme d'Or-winning film "The Class," the movie centers on the activist group ACT UP in Paris in the 1990s during the AIDS crisis. The film's docu-drama retelling of that painful period, combined with a burgeoning spirit of unity for the gay community, earned it some of the best reviews of the festival thus far. Vanity Fair called the film "a vital new gay classic."

Campillo, himself, was an ACT UP militant activist in the '90s and had long wanted to turn his experience - one of both tragedy and inspiration - into a film. He called it a "crucial" time in his life. "I lived things myself which appear in the film. I actually had to dress a friend of mine who had died," Campillo told reporters. "When you really experience that kind of thing firsthand, you realize these are very simple moments. You don't break down and cry. You have certain forms of self-defense. It would be too easy if you could just cry and feel better."

The film, filled with personal traumas and political awakenings, is fictional but is based on real events. It tracks the activists through strategy meetings, protests meant to spur action by the government or drug companies, and their evening reveries on the dance floor. "What I wanted to do was get back to the electricity there was in those days, the energy," said Campillo.

Handicapping Palme d'Or contenders is a notoriously tricky business, since the jury that will decide the award is cloistered in secrecy. But with about a third of the 19 Palme d'Or contenders having screened by Saturday, "120 Beats Per Minute" was hailed as a definite favorite. One of its stars, Nahuel Perez Biscayart, was also singled out for his moving performance as an HIV-positive young man who is drawn to action.

If "120 Beats Per Minute" were to win the Palme d'Or, it would follow another, quite different gay coming-of-age film: the 2013 lesbian romance "Blue Is the Warmest Color," directed by Abdellatif Kechiche.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:12 am 
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US officials OK option for men with HIV to father children
By MIKE STOBBE
June 1, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's top public health agency on Thursday changed its guidance for HIV-infected men who want to father children, saying there's now enough evidence that a lab technique that removes the virus is a safe option.

For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was too risky for infected men to have unprotected sex with uninfected women since that is one way the virus spreads. Infection of the baby is considered possible, but far less likely, CDC officials said. More recently, the agency said some couples can try to conceive if the man has been taking virus-suppressing HIV medications and the woman takes a drug that protects against infection.

But it's been slow to OK a technique called "sperm washing," which has been around for decades and endorsed by other medical organizations. It involves separating sperm from infected cells in seminal fluid and using the sperm for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization. The agency wanted substantial evidence that women weren't becoming infected from washed sperm. After reviewing nearly 4,000 cases worldwide, it's become clear women are not, said the CDC's Dr. Denise Jamieson.

The technique can cost $10,000 or more with in vitro fertilization, and the price has been more of a deterrent than the CDC's slowness to endorse it, said Dr. William R. Short of the University of Pennsylvania, who treats such couples. But the CDC's update probably will help more couples feel comfortable about trying to conceive, he said.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:06 am 
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For 1st time, over half of people with HIV taking AIDS drugs
By MARIA CHENG
20 July 2017

LONDON (AP) -- For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries.

Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend. "When you think about the money that's been spent on AIDS, it could have been better," said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London.

She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries. "The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down," Harman said, warning that some countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own. The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut in contributions to the U.N. starting in October.

According to the report, about 19.5 million people with HIV were taking AIDS drugs in 2016, compared to 17.1 million the previous year. UNAIDS also said there were about 36.7 million people with HIV in 2016, up slightly from 36.1 million the year before.

In the report's introduction, Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS' executive director, said more and more countries are starting treatment as early as possible, in line with scientific findings that the approach keeps people healthy and helps prevent new infections. Studies show that people whose virus is under control are far less likely to pass it on to an uninfected sex partner. "Our quest to end AIDS has only just begun," he wrote.

The report notes that about three-quarters of pregnant women with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, now have access to medicines to prevent them from passing it to their babies. It also said five hard-hit African countries now provide lifelong AIDS drugs to 95 percent of pregnant and breast-feeding women with the virus. "For more than 35 years, the world has grappled with an AIDS epidemic that has claimed an estimated 35 million lives," the report said. "Today, the United Nations General Assembly has a shared vision to consign AIDS to the history books."

The death toll from AIDS has dropped dramatically in recent years as the wide availability of affordable, life-saving drugs has made the illness a manageable disease. But Harman said that "Ending AIDS" - the report's title - was unrealistic. "I can see why they do it, because it's bold and no one would ever disagree with the idea of ending AIDS, but I think we should be pragmatic," she said. "I don't think we will ever eliminate AIDS, so it's possible this will give people the wrong idea."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:08 pm 
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Men at higher risk of dying of AIDS than women: UNAIDS
1 December 2017

OTTAWA (AFP) - Men are less likely to test for HIV or access antiretroviral therapy and, therefore, are more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women, UNAIDS said on Friday.

Around the world, fewer than half of HIV-positive men are getting treatment, compared to 60 percent of women, according to a UNAIDS report released on World AIDS Day. Men are also more likely than women to start treatment late, interrupt it, and not follow up after treatment.

About 36.7 million people in the world were living with HIV in 2016, but fewer than 21 million people had access to antiretrovirals, according to UNAIDS. AIDS or related diseases killed one million people worldwide in 2016 and an estimated 1.8 million new infections were reported.

In sub-Saharan Africa, men living with HIV are 20 percent less likely to know their HIV status than women. In the same region, condom use for one-night stands is low among older men, who are also more likely to be HIV-positive. "These data are consistent with studies showing a cycle of HIV transmission from older men to younger women, and from adult women to adult men of a similar age in places with high HIV prevalence," said UNAIDS.

Gay men are 24 times more likely to contract HIV than heterosexual men. In addition, in more than a dozen countries, including Mexico and Nigeria, more than 15 percent of gay men live with AIDS.

UNAIDS also deplored the decline in condom use in Australia, Europe and the United States. "If we allow complacency to take hold, HIV will take root and our hopes of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 will be dashed," said UNAIDS Director Michel Sidibe.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:28 pm 
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World AIDS chief warns of risk for Africa's child brides
4 December 2017

ABIDJAN (AFP) - The head of the UN's AIDS agency on Monday urged African countries to protect young women and children who are bearing the brunt of the continent's AIDS epidemic.

A sharp rise of people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has now slowed, "but now is not the time to drop our guard," Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, told the start of a six-day conference on HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases in Africa. "The many changes under way in our world should not threaten the sustainability of our great achievements in the AIDS response," he warned. "We cannot afford to lose our gains. If we want to end this epidemic, we must act now and act differently."

About 36.7 million people in the world lived with HIV in 2016, compared with 36.1 million in 2015 and 35.5 million in 2014, according to UNAIDS figures. AIDS-related deaths have declined by almost 50 percent since a peak of 1.9 million in 2005, to one million last year, helped by the rollout of HIV drugs, which repress the virus but do not eliminate it. However more than two-thirds of those infected -- 25.2 million -- live south of the Sahara. And, among the 1.16 million new infections in Africa last year, more than one in 10 occurred among children aged under 14.

For this highly vulnerable group, "prevention efforts must be stepped up," said Sidibe. In some parts of east Africa, he said, girls aged 15-19 account for 74 percent of new teenage infections -- a figure that rises to more than 90 percent in southern Africa, he said.

Researchers have pointed the finger in particular at cases in which young girls are married to older, infected men. The consequences of child marriages are "tragic," said Sidibe. In this group, the infection rate is 50 percent higher than among young girls who are not married.

Around 10,000 people are attending the conference, known by its initials as ICASA, in Ivory Coast's capital Abidjan. The event, held every two years, was launched to a powerful speech by 20-year-old Asseta Ouedraogo, infected at birth through her mother, who died in 2003.

Ouedraogo called on Africa's young people to "fight to live" in the face of AIDS, telling them that treatment and prevention could help them live a normal life and realise their dreams. "Our generation must commit itself to being the last to be affected by HIV," she said, to rousing applause.

Ouedraogo, speaking to AFP, said she was training to be a pastry chef as she had no money to take up university studies. "Until now, my friends didn't know that I had HIV, but I wanted to speak, to get this message across, to persuade those who have the virus to take their treatment," Ouedraogo said. "You must not give up, there is hope, we have a life expectancy, we can have children and work," she said.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:00 pm 
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Health groups urge Congress not to allow AIDS fight to wane
By RICHARD LARDNER
November 29, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A coalition of nearly 40 advocacy groups said Wednesday they're concerned about the Trump administration's commitment to the global fight against AIDS so they're urging senior members of Congress to make sure money for key prevention programs isn't cut back.

The groups wrote in a letter sent to Wednesday to congressional leaders that they have "profound concern" about the direction the Trump administration appears to be taking in the response to AIDS. "We are writing to sound the alarm," said the letter, delivered just ahead of World AIDS Day on Friday.

In a news release accompanying the letter, the groups said the Trump administration had called for an $800 million cut in the 2018 budget from efforts to combat HIV and AIDS. Those proposed cuts led the State Department to develop a new strategy for a program known as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

While the groups credited Congress for moving to dismiss the administration's proposed reductions, they said they are still worried about the trajectory of PEPFAR and other programs to combat the disease. The 2018 government budget isn't law yet, however. "By focusing on achieving control of the epidemic in 13 'priority' countries, while only maintaining life-saving treatment in other countries, this strategy runs the risk of forfeiting gains in some of the highest burden countries in the world," according to the letter.

The advocacy groups warned that there will be millions more AIDS-related deaths and HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 15 years if Congress doesn't head off the proposed budget cuts. "At a moment when we're finally getting ahead of the disease and its impact on communities, a reduction in funding like the administration proposed - and implementation of PEPFAR's new strategy, which aligns with those budget cuts - would directly result in cuts to the number of people accessing HIV prevention, care, and treatment, and likely trigger a resurgence of the global epidemic."

The letter was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. One the groups that signed the letter, The ONE Campaign, also issued a report Wednesday that said for the first time in 15 years the United States is "showing signs of retreat" from the campaign against HIV and AIDS. "The Trump administration appears ready to unilaterally trade the iconic red ribbon for a white flag of surrender in the global fight against AIDS," according to the report.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:18 pm 
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Prominent AIDS crusader Mathilde Krim dies at age 91
January 16, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mathilde Krim, a prominent AIDS researcher who galvanized worldwide support in the early fight against the deadly disease, has died. She was 91.

Krim was founding chairman of The Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR. The nonprofit says she died at her home in King's Point, New York, on Monday. amfAR Chief Executive Officer Kevin Robert Frost says in a statement "so many people alive today literally owe their lives" to her.

Krim was a geneticist with experience in cancer research when AIDS first surfaced in the early 1980s. Over the next several decades, she mobilized a vast army of celebrities and others to help raise money and to lessen the disease's stigma. In 2000, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

Source: AP

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