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The fight against HIV opened doors to wider social reforms, says activist

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The Hindu
25 July 2012

The fight against HIV in India has "opened the doors" to much wider social reforms in the country, said the UN secretary general's new special envoy for AIDS in the Asia–Pacific region, who has credited India's sex workers with pioneering some of the most successful HIV prevention programmes.

Prasada Rao, who took up his post this month, said the HIV epidemic forced the Indian government to start talking to communities that have been marginalised for decades.


US adds $150 million to battle AIDS

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The Economic Times
24 July 2012

WASHINGTON: The US is adding an extra $150 million to the global AIDS fight, with a first step toward reaching some stigmatized populations.

Despite tough fiscal times, "I am here today to make it absolutely clear the US is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS–free generation," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told the International AIDS Conference on Monday.

That's a big goal: Some 34.2 million people worldwide are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 2.5 million were infected last year. But the world's largest AIDS meeting this week is debating how to spread scientific advances in ways to stem spread of the virus to get there.



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Times Of India
23 july 2012

The ‘Berlin Patient’ used to be HIV positive but shows no trace of the virus after bone marrow transplant

AIDS researchers believe the time may have come to think the unthinkable: a growing body of expert opinion believes a cure for HIV infection is no longer a scientific impossibility but a realistic goal that scientists could reach in the very near future.


US nod for once-a-day pill to cut HIV risk

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18 july 2012

Clinical Trials Show Drug ‘Truvada’ Significantly Prevents Infection, Says FDA

Washington: For the first time, a once–a–day pill which reduces the chance of contracting HIV among high risk groups "significantly" has got green signal in the US, where 1.2 million people are infected by the deadly disease. The drug,‘Truvada’ can now be used by those at high risk of the infection and anyone who may engage in sexual activity with HIV–infected partners, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced.

"In two large clinical trials, daily use of the drug was shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection," it said on Monday. However, some health workers and groups active in the HIV community opposed the approval for the once–a–day pill.

There are concerns that circulation of such a drug could engender a false sense of security and mean people will take more risks. There have also been fears that a drug–resistant strain of HIV could develop. People diagnosed with HIV that without treatment develops into AIDS take antiviral medications to control the infection that attacks their immune system.

In a statement, the FDA stressed that the drug should be used as part of a "comprehensive HIV prevention plan", including Condom use and regular HIV testing. Studies show that Truvada reduced the risk of HIV in healthy gay men – and among HIV–negative heterosexual partners of HIV–positive people – by between 44% and 73%.

"In the 80s and early 90s, HIV was viewed as a life–threatening disease; in some parts of the world it still is. Medical advances, along with the availability of close to 30 approved individual HIV drugs, have enabled us to treat it as a chronic disease most of the time," Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antiviral Products at FDA, said. PTI

GM bacteria prevents malaria transmission
In a breakthrough, US scientists have genetically modified a bacterium to kill the parasite that causes malaria before it infects humans. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute said their breakthrough could help prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria to humans. Malaria kills over 800,000 people worldwide every year, most of them are children. In the new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers modified the bacterium, called Pantoea agglomerans, to secrete proteins that are toxic to the malaria parasite, but not harmful to the mosquito or humans. The bacterium is commonly found in the mosquito’s midgut. It was found that the modified bacteria were 98 per cent effective in reducing the malaria parasite burden in the insects, the researchers said. PTI

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HIV care a worry for displaced CSWs

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Times Of India
17 july 2012

Mumbai: As the world gears up for the International AIDS Conference in Washington starting Sunday,commercialsex workers (CSW) from Mumbai are readying to highlight a hiccup in the city’s fight against HIV/AIDS. The gentrification of red–light areas in Mumbai and the subsequent displacement and dispersal of CSWs have adversely affected their access toHIVcare andtreatment,they believe.

Greater government attention to displaced CSWs and a realistic rehabilitation policy are what a delegation of CSWs and transgenders will campaign for as they attend an allied conference of the global event in Kolkata. "Mobility among CSWs is anyway high and poses a challenge in HIV treatment in terms of following up on affected persons. Commercialization of realestatehasledtofurther displacementof many CSWs, alienating them from ART (anti– retroviral therapy) they were receiving," said Seema Sayyed, manager of Aastha Parivar, a conglomeration of 14 community–based organizations covering around 30,000CSWs.


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