• FULL MULTIMEDIA COVERAGE OF THE XVI INTERNATIONAL
This week, The Body's e-mail newsletter features some of the top headlines from the XVI International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2006) in Toronto, Canada, the largest HIV conference
in history. There's an awful lot going on at this week-long conference, and we're providing a front-row seat! This e-mail contains only a small part of our comprehensive coverage;
visit our AIDS 2006 home page for the very latest news, research, speeches, podcasts, photos, interviews, protests and much more.
• GENERAL NEWS FROM AIDS 2006
Melinda and Bill Gates Call for Global Empowerment of Women to Prevent HIV
In a stirring speech during the opening ceremony of the XVI International AIDS Conference, Bill and Melinda Gates implored the world to do more to empower women -- including
sex workers -- in the fight against HIV. "No
matter where she lives, who she is, or what she does, a woman should never need her partner's permission to save her own life," Bill Gates said. The Gateses also reaffirmed their commitment
to make HIV the number one priority of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the richest charitable organization in the world.
Click here to watch the complete opening ceremony as a kaisernetwork.org Webcast, download a podcast or read a
Clinton Declares That Fighting HIV Is His Life's Mission
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said at the XVI International AIDS Conference on Aug. 15 that he will continue to combat HIV for the rest of his life, or until the pandemic is controlled. "I
can't conceive of anything that would divert me from this commitment, short of a life-threatening illness or success (in defeating HIV/AIDS)," Clinton said. During the session, Clinton also
spoke out against HIV prevention programs that focus solely on abstinence, saying, "I think that abstinence-only is an error." He also reiterated his regret at not having supported needle
exchange programs more strongly while he was president.
To watch a Webcast of the full session with Clinton and Stephen Lewis, UNAIDS' Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, click
here. You can also click here to watch a press briefing afterward in which
Clinton and Lewis answered additional questions.
Clinton, Gates Speak Openly About Challenges in Global HIV Battle
"Did you hear the two Bills?" was the question buzzing among attendees on the first day of the XVI International AIDS Conference. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates took part in a Monday morning
forum entitled "Priorities in Ending the Epidemic," which drew crowds and featured tight security that left many delegates waiting in long lines to have their bags searched. But
the wait was worth it: Here were two of the world's most powerful men focusing their energies on HIV. And the fact that they chose to focus on the dire needs
ofÔø‡Ôø‡ women around the world was even more inspiring.
Click here to watch the hour-long session as a Webcast, download a podcast or read a full transcript.
Canadian Prime Minister's Absence "Breaks Heart" of Organizer
Toronto, Canada, is hosting the largest HIV conference in history -- but the country's most powerful man isn't there to see it. At the conference's opening ceremony, Dr. Mark Wainberg, the
co-chair of the conference and a prominent Canadian HIV researcher, lambasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his absence. "HIV is one of the worst enemies we have on this planet," Dr.
Wainberg said. "Why is Mr. Harper not here to show leadership on the world stage? As a Canadian it breaks my heart." Later during the opening ceremony, protestors shouted "Where
is Stephen Harper?" as Canada's health minister attempted to give a speech.
• HIV TREATMENT
Boosted Protease Inhibitors Are More "Forgiving" of Poor Adherence: Study
A small study shows that there is a higher degree of medication "forgiveness" when boosted protease inhibitors (Kaletra [lopinavir/ritonavir] in particular) are used in a regimen rather than
unboosted protease inhibitors. That "forgiveness" may translate into continued suppression of HIV, even if adherence is well below the recommended 95 percent of doses. Paul Sax, M.D., reports
for The Body.
Three HIV Meds or Four? Makes No Difference, Study Says
People who are taking HIV meds for the first time are usually prescribed a three-drug regimen, and most do very well on it. But researchers have long wondered if, by adding a fourth drug to a standard
first-line regimen, people could do even better. Well, a large, three-year study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health may have answered the question once and for all: The researchers found
that adding a fourth drug offered no benefit over the three-drug cocktail either in terms of reduced viral load or increased CD4 cell count.
Selenium Improves HIV Treatment Response in Nigerian Randomized Study
Dramatic results from a large study in Nigeria suggest that people with advanced HIV disease who take selenium supplements along with their HIV meds could experience a CD4 count boost almost twice as quickly
as people who take HIV meds alone. All of the 340 Nigerians who took part in the 72-week study had extremely low CD4 counts when they started treatment, suggesting the impact of selenium may be much greater
for people who are diagnosed late in the course of their infection. People who took a daily dose of 200 micrograms of selenium with their HIV meds also experienced more weight gain, fewer opportunistic
infections and higher hemoglobin levels. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
Short-Term Treatment Shortly After Infection May Delay CD4 Count Drop, Study Finds
In the largest study so far on treatment during primary HIV infection, researchers have found that taking HIV meds for a while during the primary HIV infection stage can delay the time it takes for a person's
CD4 count to drop below 350 or viral load to climb above 100,000. Brian Conway, M.D., reports for The Body.
• HIV TRANSMISSION & PREVENTION
HIV Prevalence Increases in the U.S.; 48% Are Black
The number of people with HIV continues to rise in the United States, increasing by 6.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2004 in 33 U.S. states, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
researchers. In addition, African Americans comprise 48% of all people living with HIV in 33 U.S. states, although they make up only 13% of the total population in those states, the researchers
found. Mark Holodniy, M.D., reports for The Body.
Inconclusive Early Results From Study on Tenofovir for HIV Prevention
Results from a clinical trial that investigated the potential use of tenofovir (Viread) and the combination pill Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) as pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission
show possible effectiveness. However, scientists say that because so few people in the study became infected with HIV (regardless of whether or not they received pre-exposure prophylaxis), the
effectiveness of tenofovir as a prevention pill cannot yet be guaranteed.
African Nations Report "Mixed" Success With ABC Prevention Method
The "ABC" method -- abstain, be faithful, use condoms -- is the lynchpin of the United States' global HIV prevention efforts, but some developing countries have had trouble implementing it, according
to reports by African nations at the XVI International AIDS Conference. In Botswana, in areas where intense door-to-door education efforts took place, many people still didn't appear to know that being
faithful was an important part of HIV prevention. In Kenya, although about half of teenagers in a survey understood why abstinence was important, only 23 percent understood faithfulness, and only 13 percent
could explain the importance of condoms.
The Debate Heats Up: Should Men in Developing Countries Be Circumcised?
Researchers, experts and AIDS advocates engaged in a spirited debate at the XVI International AIDS Conference over whether male circumcision is a safe and effective method for
preventing or reducing the spread of HIV in developing countries. Although recent studies suggest that it is, cultural beliefs may make the widespread acceptance of circumcision a daunting prospect in
some areas. "The
cultural meaning of this act is much more profound than this kind of research can take account of," said Gary Dowsett, an Australian sociologist.
To watch a Webcast of this debate, which took place on Aug. 15, click here.
• HIV POLICY & ACTIVISM
Many Rich Nations Not Paying Their Fair Share in Global HIV Fight, Report Card Says
Many of the world's wealthiest countries are failing to live up to their commitments to fund the global battle against HIV, according to a report card prepared by health advocates
and released at the XVI International AIDS Conference. The report card graded countries based on how much money they had pledged to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
for 2006 and 2007. Only three wealthy nations -- France, Ireland and Sweden -- received a grade of A for both years, while nine countries were given two F's. The United States
received a C for 2006 and an F for 2007. (Web highlight from PlusNews)
To download a PDF of the report card, click here.
Second-Line HIV Meds Still Far Too Expensive, MSF Says; Governments Have "Heads in the Sand"
Although the world has made great advances in getting HIV meds to people who need them, many HIV medications remain too expensive in the developing world, especially meds that people must take when their
first regimen fails, says Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). At the XVI International AIDS Conference, MSF warned of the rise of HIV drug resistance in poor countries, and appealed for greater attention to
the need for further price reductions. "Most patients whose lives had been saved by first-line treatment will be abandoned the moment they need second-line
drugs unless governments pull their heads out of the sand and start tackling this issue," said Ibrahim Umoru, an MSF peer educator from Nigeria, at the conference. (Web highlight from PlusNews)
To read an MSF press release on this issue, click here.
New U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Defends U.S. HIV Prevention Strategy Overseas
Dr. Mark Dybul, the newly confirmed head of the United States' global HIV-fighting efforts, dipped his feet in the fire at the XVI International AIDS Conference
this week as he tried to address widespread criticism about what many say is the Bush administration's abstinence-heavy focus on HIV prevention in developing countries. "They ought to actually look
at our numbers, look at our data, look at our guidance. There is no evidence in support of what they are saying," Dybul said in an interview with kaisernetwork.org.
Click here to see a Webcast of the kaisernetwork.org interview with Dr. Dybul.
Actor, AIDS Advocate Richard Gere Says Media Is Crucial in Fighting Pandemic
The transformation of an actor like Richard Gere into a knowledgeable, passionate AIDS advocate has been remarkable. Gere was at it again at the XVI International AIDS Conference, where he joined
media officials from throughout the world to talk about how important it is that the global media use its power to spread HIV awareness and fight stigma. In 2004, Gere co-founded the Heroes Project, which
uses celebrities from Bollywood films, sports figures, business leaders and government officials as spokespeople to increase public discussion of the Indian HIV epidemic with television, radio and print
AIDS Activists Block Traffic at U.S. Consulate in Toronto
In one of many protests occurring daily during the XVI International AIDS Conference, the AIDS advocacy group Housing Works organized a temporary shutdown of traffic in front of the U.S. consulate
in Toronto, Canada, on Aug. 16. In a statement, Housing Works said the protest was meant to call attention to the United States' failure to
commit to ending the AIDS pandemic. "People
living with AIDS are tired of empty declarations. We call on President Bush to join with the leaders of other nations to provide universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support in the U.S.
and abroad by 2010," said
Housing Works president Charles King.
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