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Issue No. 7 | February 13, 2009

News and Features

NIAID: Microbicide Gel Shows Potential to Prevent HIV in Women

"The study investigators found the microbicide gel -- known as PRO 2000  -- to be safe and approximately 30 percent effective (33 percent effectiveness would have been considered statistically significant). This is the first human clinical study to suggest that a microbicide -- a gel, foam or cream intended to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections when applied topically inside the vagina or rectum -- may prevent male-to-female sexual transmission of HIV infection."

CDC: PrEP can be protective against transmission of SHIV in macaques

From the CDC:

 "CDC researchers presented two studies at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) that showed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can be protective against transmission of simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) in macaques.

"In one study (Oral Abstract 47: Garcia-Lerma, et al., Prevention of rectal SHIV transmission in macaques by intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis (iPrEP) with oral Truvada), CDC researchers found for the first time that the oral administration of antiretroviral drugs before and after exposure to SHIV effectively prevented rectal infection in macaques; this approach is known as intermittent PrEP.

"In a second study (Oral Abstract 46: Dobard, et al., Complete protection against repeated vaginal SHIV exposures in macaques by a [topical] gel containing tenofovir alone or with emtricitabine), CDC researchers found that when applied as a gel prior to vaginal SHIV exposure, a single antiretroviral drug was just as effective as two antiretroviral drugs in preventing infection in female macaques."

NIAID: IL-2 Immunotherapy Improves CD4 count, but not Health of HIV-infected Individuals on HAART

" 'In both studies, the volunteers who received IL-2 and antiretrovirals experienced notable, sustained increases in CD4+ T cell counts, as anticipated,' notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. 'Unfortunately, these increases did not translate into reduced risks of HIV-associated opportunistic diseases or death when compared with the risks in volunteers who were taking only antiretrovirals. Although further analyses may help us better understand these findings, the two studies clearly demonstrated that the use of IL-2 did not improve health outcomes for HIV-infected people.' "

NIAMS: Pentamer Capsid Protein Seen for the First Time

"For the first time, scientists can see an elusive protein that forms part of the shell of a retrovirus[.] ...The target of the research was a retrovirus capsid pentamer protein -- a protein composed of five subunits that forms part of the capsid, the shell containing the nuclear material of a retrovirus. To date, scientists have only been able to visualize capsid hexamer proteins, which are composed of six subunits. Since structure often impacts function on the molecular scale, these findings may further our understanding of capsid assembly in retroviral replication and may lead to interventions to disrupt it."

Study: A Study of Factors Leading to ARV Therapy Nonadherence among HIV-Infected Youth

"Adherence continues to be a major barrier to successful treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV-infected individuals. ... Often, individuals who struggle with adherence to HAART face multiple barriers that would therefore impact on the success of any single modality intervention....Both self-efficacy and outcome expectancy were higher among adherent versus nonadherent subjects...Our data suggest that adolescents have significant rates of non-adherence and face multiple personal barriers. Adherence interventions must address multiple barriers to have the maximum chance for positive effects."

  • Read the study abstract