Entries in HIV Infection (6)


FDA Advisory Panel Approves Home HIV Test Kit

ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- Americans are a step closer to being able to quickly determine in the privacy of their own homes whether they’re infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Tuesday voted 17-0 in favor of approving the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, which produces results within 20 minutes of a quick swab along the gum line. A positive test result still must be confirmed with a traditional blood test performed in a laboratory.

The FDA, which isn’t bound by the recommendations of its advisory panels, is expected to make a final decision about the home test this year. A thumbs-up for the over-the-counter test kit from OraSure Technologies Inc., of Bethlehem, Pa., has the potential to reduce the number of people who unknowingly spread the virus because they’re unaware they’re infected. An estimated quarter million Americans are HIV-positive, but haven’t been tested. Each year, about 50,000 Americans become infected.

The FDA has estimated that 2.8 million people might test themselves in the first year after the over-the-counter test becomes available. FDA projected that the test could pick up 45,000 infections that otherwise would have remained undetected, while missing 3,800 infections, based upon the test’s 93 percent rate of correctly identifying infections in clinical trials. In addition, the agency estimated that by identifying 45,000 HIV-positive people, the test could prevent them from unwittingly transmitting it to another 4,000 people.

“This is a big step forward for HIV prevention. Anything that encourages people to get tested is a good thing,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, and a former acting director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Twenty percent of Americans with HIV don’t even know it. It’s hard to prevent the spread if you don’t even know you’re infected. HIV is now a treatable as well as preventable disease.”

Besser said it’s important that anyone who gets tested, whether at home or in a doctor’s office, “is connected to support services.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


WHO Concludes Review of Hormonal Contraceptives and HIV Infections

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) advised women with or at risk for HIV to continue using hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

WHO officials held a meeting with 75 experts from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1 to review several epidemiological studies on hormonal contraception.

In October 2011, a study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases suggested the use of hormonal contraceptives may cause HIV infections to increase in woman. At the conclusion of the WHO meeting, the Guidelines Review Committee said the contraceptives were safe but recommended the use of condoms and other contraceptions for women who have HIV or are at risk for infection.

"The group noted the importance of hormonal contraceptives and of HIV prevention for public health and emphasized the need for individuals living with or at risk of HIV to also always use condoms, male or female, as hormonal contraceptives are not protective against HIV transmission or acquisition," according to the report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Vaccine May Reduce HIV to Minor Infection, Researchers Say

Ablestock/Thinkstock(MADRID) -- A potent vaccine may reduce HIV to a minor chronic infection, similar to the herpes virus, Spanish researchers said Wednesday. But experts warn that a cure for HIV/AIDS is still a long way away.

Professor Mariano Esteban, of the Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council, tested the vaccine, known as MVA-B, on 24 healthy patients. Ninety percent of the participants who received the vaccine developed an immunological response to the virus, and 85 percent of them still had the response after one year of receiving the vaccine.

“MVA-B vaccine has proven to be as powerful as any other vaccine currently being studied, or even more,” Esteban said in a statement.

The vaccine contained four HIV genes that stimulated two types of white blood cells to attack and destroy the sickly HIV cells. Nearly 75 percent of the study participants developed HIV-specific antibodies to protect against the virus.

Next, Esteban and colleagues plan to test the vaccine in people who suffer from HIV in order to see whether the injection has therapeutic qualities. But experts, including Esteban, noted that an antibody response is not full protection, and much more research must be underway.

“The biggest problem with vaccine trials is unlocking the key to immune protection, and that’s been very hard to do,” said Dr. John Bartlett, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Vaccine research has caused quite a bit of frustration among AIDS researchers, Bartlett said, and many in the AIDS research community are not enthusiastic about treating those who are uninfected unless there is a specific high-risk patient population for whom it makes sense.

“There are people waiting in endless lines because they have HIV, so I don’t see how we can use those resources for people who don’t even have HIV, especially when the disease can be very well-prevented with condoms,” said Bartlett. “Right now the three big focuses are prevention, cure and immune activation,” he said.

Several studies have been key in moving HIV treatment forward, including a large 2009 study based in Thailand, where AIDS experts tested the first HIV vaccine, which reduced the risk of infection by more than 30 percent.

In a study published in the summer of 2010, experts expressed optimism for a vaginal gel, intended to be used by women during sex. Clinical trials showed that the gel reduced the risk of a woman acquiring the HIV infection by 39 percent.

Despite the numerous rays of hope, experts warn that, while research has contributed to positive steps in understanding the disease, findings are preliminary and a cure is far away.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lifetime Ban on Blood Donations by Homosexual Men Lifted in UK

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(LONDON) - The lifetime ban on blood donations by homosexual and bisexual men will finally be lifted in England, Scotland and Wales. 

These restrictions were originally put in place in the 1980s to prevent any risk of HIV contamination, especially in response to the AIDS epidemic and lack of adequate HIV tests.

The change in policy comes as the latest medical evidence presented to a government panel argued that the ban was no longer justified.

Ministers in the three countries have accepted this argument, and agreed to let men who have not engaged in sexual intercourse with other men in the past 12 months to donate starting in November. Although the  National Blood service screens all donations for HIV and other infections, there is still a “window period” after infection during with it is impossible to detect the virus.

Northern Ireland is also expected to make a decision soon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New HIV Treatment Approved by FDA

ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval to a new treatment for adults infected with HIV.

The FDA announced the approval of the drug Edurant (rilpivirine) on Friday, which officials say when used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs, can treat HIV-1 infection in patients who have never taken HIV therapy. The FDA says Endurant is to be used as part of a highly active antiretroviral therapy regimen aimed at suppressing HIV levels in the blood.

“FDA’s approval of Edurant provides an additional treatment option for patients who are starting HIV therapy,” said Edward Cox, M.D., M.P.H, director, Office of Antimicrobial Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The approval comes following a trial phase involving over 1,300 adult patients with HIV.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HIV Prevention Drug Truvada: No Effect on Women

Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Prophylactic medicine widely used to prevent HIV infection among gay men appears to have no effect on women.

Researchers stopped one in a series of long-term studies testing the antiretroviral drug Truvada on thousands of African women who are at high risk of HIV infection after preliminary data showed an equal HIV infection rate among both women who took Truvada and those who took a placebo.

Many experts say they found the results of the study, known as FEM-PrEP, disappointing, since Truvada is regarded as a groundbreaking drug for HIV prevention among gay men. Researchers believed Truvada would also work for high-risk women in Africa.

"We were surprised by the outcome," said Dr. Timothy Mastro, vice president of health and developmental science at FHI, the nongovernmental organization that oversaw the study. "We were advised that there was no benefit to continue for the next several months."

A number of possible reasons could have contributed to the findings, according to Mastro. One reason, according to the organization, could be that the women may not have been taking the medication as advised, if they were taking it at all. Or the medication might not work for women the way it seemed to work for men.

"The final data have not been confirmed," said Mastro. "So at this point, all we can say is that the study was not able to conclude that Truvada works for women."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio