The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) is an annual conference that brings together scientists and clinical researchers to share, discuss, debate, present the latest research and new developments in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS and related diseases. The conference took place in Boston, USA early this month. Reading through the news stories from the conference (I did not attend the conference) here are a few highlights…
Sugar daddies’ campaigns may be missing the mark. An eight-year rural South African study found that women under the age of 30 who have sex with older men are not at a higher risk of HIV infection. The study authors suggest that campaigns that discourage “sugar daddy relationships” may be an inefficient use of resources and counter productive. They suggest that young women may be more likely to encounter infected older partners in urban areas.
Partners with undetectable viral loads do not transmit HIV. The European PARTNER study recruited 1 110 couples with different HIV status that were having sex without a condom some of the time with a positive partner who was on ARVs. Forty percent of these couples were gay. The main finding of the ongoing study, whose final results will be out in 2017, is that when the HIV positive partner had an undetectable viral load there was no transmission. The study authors calculate a 0.45% risk of transmission per year. The PARTNER study still advocates the use of condoms.
Once a month injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is about to be trialled in humans. PrEP are drugs that can be taken to prevent HIV infection. A study on monkeys has found that injecting ARVs once a month can prevent the transmission of HIV. Trials to determine whether this can work in humans are about to start.
Malawian researchers presented encouraging results of an HIV self testing study conducted in Blantyre. Of a total 13 966 Oraquick, oral fluid test kits, distributed, 89 percent were returned used; they calculated the uptake of the self test kits at 76 percent. The study found that self testing enabled testing among people who had never tested before and suggest that young people find self testing acceptable and desirable.