Additional Coverage of research from the 9th International
AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science
July 23-26, 2017 by Michael Harney
In 2016, 27 million of these “biomedical devices” were provided through outreach and clinical settings mostly to HIV+ woman and their male partners. Couples sometimes alternated use with the less costly male condoms, of which, in a country of 55 million people, 900 million were distributed. The conclusion is that this program has been very successful, even in rural areas of the country.
In comparison, the WNC AIDS Project, in 2016, distributed about 155,000 male condoms ($.07/unit, comparable to the price South Africa pays), and only several hundred female condoms ($1.29 each). The presenters noted that insertive condoms are used less for anal sex than in other countries like the U.S.
As the conference progressed, health economist Sandra Sosa-Rubí, PhD., who was about to present the Economic Incentives for HIV Prevention in Latin America, stepped aside while activists from Venezuela took the stage and demanded global funding in their country where only 7% of people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Worldwide, on average over 50% of PLWH are taking ART. The conflict in Venezuela has made healthcare in the country a tragic human rights crisis. There are thought to be as many as 120,000 people living with HIV in Venezuela, according to www.UNAIDS.org .
At today’s Plenary, activists marched to the podium chanting “U=U (undetectable=Untransmittable) Let’s Celebrate Sex.”
Walking between sessions, poster presentations line the walls. Poster WEPEC 1016, entitled Parents & Providers as Conduits of Inclusive HIV & Sex Information for Gay, Bisexual, & Queer Adolescent Males was co-authored by researchers from Duke University and described how LGBTQ issues are not often included in that conversation young people receive about the “birds and the bees.” Poster WEPEC 1001, co-authored by researchers from Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, entitled Health Mpowerment, stated that, “While previous research indicates the efficacy of computer-based interventions in reducing HIV related sexual risks, these interventions have not been developed specifically for Young Black Men who have Sex with Men (YBMSM), a population in the United Sates, where infection rates are high.”
North Carolina was represented in Paris in other ways. Dr. Myron Cohen of UNC Chapel Hill co-moderated Symposia Session HIV and STIs: The Terrible Lovers. Scientific journal, The Lancet, Infectious Diseases 2017, was noted as a source of some of the best data available on many of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs; also known as STDs – Sexually Transmitted Diseases). A fact sheet available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.CDC.gov ) October 2016 is a further resource about chlamydia and gonorrhea cases worldwide, two of the most common STIs. With condom use falling, cases of these and other STIs are seen as rising.
Dr. Scott McClelland from the University of Washington reported that Herpes, vaginal dysbiosis (also known as Bacterial Vaginosis), and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) are implicated in higher risk of HIV transmission. With more CD4+ cells present at the sites of lesions, and with greater inflammation caused by these infections, HIV may enter the body more easily.
Two messages from these presenters were that STIs must not be neglected by medical providers; and more innovative methods of diagnosis and management need to be developed. One suggestion was that health departments become sexual health centers with more holistic messages to reach people in need of screening and treatment. Reviving vaccine research for the prevention of STIs is essential, as people are sexual beings, all over the world. In fact, potential vaccines against syphilis and gonorrhea are in early stages.
Late in the afternoon, a visit to a needle exchange and safe injection site run by Gaïa gave hope to the Rubberman what might someday be legal in the United States. It is located on the grounds of a large community hospital in Paris near the Gare du Nord train station and serves more than 100 injectors each day, seven days a week. It offers comprehensive harm reduction support, with counselors and medical providers present. Gaïa is one of nine needle exchange programs in the city, but only one of two safe injection sites in France.
Amazingly innovative, there are converted cigarette machines that dispense safe-use kits with injection supplies or safe-use kits for crack smokers. Both packets come with information about the services provided at the exchanges in Paris, and they are available at strategic locations around the city. Get a free token at the hospital, in case a kit is needed outside the hours the exchanges operate. Heroin is not widely used in this country, nor are overdoses as prevalent as in the U.S., however, overdose reversal with naloxone is available.
If this wasn’t enough for one day, then take a further look at www.pipelinereport.org by the Treatment Action Group (TAG). It is the premier report on HIV-TB-HCV treatments under development as of 2017.
Since the conference comes to its conclusion this week, so will access to the media center. Thus, a follow-up report will come your way from Asheville with a few more items to mention.
And for more in-depth coverage, www.POZ.com may be a useful resource, as well as some of the scientific papers found at the Journal of the International AIDS Society www.jiasociety.org .
Back to the conference for the Rapporteur session.
Au revoir, from Paris.
**Michael Harney was on assignment at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science for www.gayashevillenc.com