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Issue No. 26 | June 12, 2009

News and Features

Study: Early HAART Therapy Leads to Better Outcomes

"A clinical trial has demonstrated that HIV-infected adults in a resource-limited setting are more likely to survive if they start antiretroviral therapy (ART) before their immune systems are severely compromised.

"On May 28, 2009, an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) met to conduct an interim review of an ongoing clinical study known as CIPRA HT 001, which is being conducted in Haiti. The DSMB found overwhelming evidence that starting ART at CD4+ T cell counts -- a measure of immune health -- between 200 and 350 cells per cubic millimeter (mm3) improves survival compared with deferring treatment until CD4+ T cells drop below 200 cells/mm3."

NIAID Leaders Announce Plan for Universal and Voluntary HIV Testing and Treatment

"In the June 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, top HIV/AIDS research leaders at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, set forth a research agenda to answer these and other provocative questions that may help shape the future of HIV prevention.

"The inspiration for the research agenda outlined by NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., and the Director of NIAID's Division of AIDS, Carl Dieffenbach, Ph.D., is a mathematical modeling study published by scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) in The Lancet in January 2009. The model by Granich et al. predicts that within 10 years of implementation, a program of universal, voluntary, annual HIV testing and immediate treatment for those who test positive could reduce HIV incidence from 20 new cases per 1,000 people per year --  the current rate in places like South Africa -- to less than 1 case per 1,000 per year. Further, the model predicts that this strategy, colloquially called `test and treat,' could end the pandemic within 50 years. Some 33 million people globally are infected with HIV today."

Study: HIV-Infected Individuals are at Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

"HIV infection poses a risk of cardiovascular disease similar to that of smoking, researchers recently reported.

"The thickening of the carotid artery associated with the increased risk is not caused by HIV medications[.] ...

"The results have implications for the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. For someone who has an intermediate risk of heart attack, a 10 to 20 percent chance of a heart attack with 10 years, the need for the drugs is a gray area. But an HIV-positive diagnosis moves a person who otherwise has an intermediate risk into the high-risk category ... and treatment is indicated."