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[ by | Nov 21, 2011 10:30 am | Comments Off ]

Foundation For AIDS Research Announces Additional $2.1 Million In Grants Towards AIDS Cure – The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) has announced that it will distribute an additional $2.1 million in grants and fellowships to researchers working toward a cure for HIV. AmfAR states that 60 percent of its research grants now go toward research into finding a cure for HIV. Many of the grants have been awarded to scientists working on eliminating latent HIV, which is a dormant form of HIV that is not affected by antiretrovirals. Many scientists believe that activating and eliminating latent HIV is the key to a cure (see related AIDS Beacon news). For more information, please see the amfAR press release.

FDA Grants Priority Review For HIV Neuropathy Pain Relief Patch Qutenza – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted biopharmaceutical company NeurogesX a priority review for its capsaicin patch Qutenza, which is currently being evaluated for the treatment of pain from HIV-associated neuropathy. The decision means that the FDA will review the application for approval of Qutenza in six months rather than the usual 10 months. NeurogesX stated that it expects a decision from the FDA on March 7, 2012. Neuropathy is a condition that causes pain, numbness, burning, or tingling in the extremities. Qutenza is a capsaicin patch that is placed on the skin for 30 minutes. If approved, it would be the first product in the U.S. indicated for the treatment of pain from HIV-related neuropathy. It is currently approved for treatment of nerve pain due to shingles. For more information, please see the NeurogesX press release.

World AIDS Day Is December 1  December 1 marks the 23rd World AIDS Day, a day set aside to remember those who have passed from the disease, acknowledge those who are living with HIV and AIDS, and spread awareness of its impact around the globe. The theme of this year’s AIDS day is “Getting to Zero,” which refers to zero new infections, zero new deaths from AIDS, and zero discrimination against people with HIV. Cities around the nation and the world will be holding events to mark World AIDS Day. For more information on participating or to register an event, please see the AIDS.gov website. For more information on World AIDS Day, please see the international World AIDS Day website.

Redesigned AIDSinfo Website To Debut On World AIDS Day – AIDSinfo, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been redesigned; the new design will debut on World AIDS Day, December 1. In addition, the Spanish version of the site, infoSIDA, will now have its own web address at www.infoSIDA.nih.gov. The AIDSinfo websites bring federal information regarding HIV and AIDS research, treatments, prevention, and medical practices to the public, with a specific focus on clinical research information and medical guidelines related to the care of people with HIV and AIDS. For more information, please see the AIDSinfo website.

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[ by | Jul 18, 2011 12:13 pm | Comments Off ]

Abbott Laboratories To Develop New Combination Antiretroviral Pill – Abbott Laboratories announced last week that it will be developing a new combination antiretroviral pill consisting of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and GlaxoSmithKline’s Epivir (lamivudine). According to Abbott, the proposed combination would reduce the number of pills patients have to take and would be more cost-effective than purchasing the medications separately. The combination pill would still need to be taken with at least one other antiretroviral. Abbott is also working on a powder (rather than liquid) formulation of Norvir (ritonavir), which could be added to food or drinks and may be easier for children to take. For more information, please see the Abbott Laboratories press release.

Gilead Sciences Agrees To License New HIV Drugs To Generic Drug Companies In Developing Countries – Gilead Sciences has signed agreements with several generic drug companies in India that will allow them to produce low-cost versions of the antiretrovirals Viread (tenofovir) and Emtriva (emtricitabine) for developing countries. The agreements will extend to the investigational drugs elvitegravir, cobicistat, and the combination “Quad” pill (cobicistat/elvitegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir) if the drugs are approved. The agreement makes Gilead the first company to join the Medicines Patent Pool, an effort to bring newer antiretrovirals that are still under patent protection to people in developing nations. However, the agreement has faced criticism from Médecins Sans Frontières (also known as Doctors Without Borders) for excluding certain middle-income countries, such as Thailand and Brazil. For more information, please see the press releases from Gilead Sciences and Médecins Sans Frontières.

AIDSinfo Updates “HIV And Its Treatment” Factsheets – AIDSinfo, a website run by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), has updated its factsheets on “HIV and Its Treatment” to include information from the latest DHHS treatment guidelines for adults and adolescents. The factsheets are intended for people with HIV and their friends or families and include information on current treatment recommendations, HIV testing, transmission prevention, and other topics. For more information, please see the updated factsheets (pdf) or the AIDSinfo website.

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[ by | Mar 21, 2011 4:23 pm | Comments Off ]

High Bar Set For New AIDS Drugs – Thirty years after the discovery of the HIV virus, 31 drugs are currently on the market to help make HIV a manageable disease. In particular, Gilead Sciences’ once-daily pill Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir) is the most widely used AIDS drug. However, such a success has now set the bar high for new drugs. Fewer anti-HIV drugs are in the pipeline in recent years, and several investigational drugs have failed to outperform the current options.  Although most HIV-positive individuals are able to manage their disease with the available treatments, the lack of new treatments is leaving some worried that HIV-positive individuals may face the possibility of their virus developing resistance to the current arsenal of drugs. For more information, please visit the San Francisco Chronicle article.

AIDSinfo Releases Adult And Adolescent Antiretroviral Guidelines In Web-Friendly Format – AIDSinfo, a website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, now offers a way to view the latest antiretroviral guidelines for adults and adolescents in both web-friendly and printer-friendly formats.  Pediatric and other HIV-related guidelines are available on the site in a printer-friendly format. For more information, please visit the AIDSinfo website.

Phase 3 Clinical Trial Tests Truvada Plus Rilpivirine Combination Pill Versus Atripla In Previously Untreated HIV-Positive Adults – Gilead Sciences is currently recruiting participants for a Phase 3 study testing the efficacy and safety of a single tablet regimen of Truvada (emtricitabine/ tenofovir) plus rilpivirine (TMC278) compared to Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir).  HIV-positive adults who have not been previously treated with antiretroviral therapy may be eligible. Participants will receive either a once-daily tablet of Truvada/rilpivirine or Atripla for 96 weeks. At 48 weeks, viral load (amount of HIV RNA) and CD4 (white blood) cell counts will be assessed.  At 96 weeks, CD4 cell counts will be reassessed. For more information, please visit the U.S. Clinical Trials Registry.

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[ by | Jan 10, 2011 3:52 pm | Comments Off ]

Virginia Closes Enrollment For Its State ADAP – The state of Virginia has closed enrollment for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a program that provides anti-HIV medications for low-income people with HIV and AIDS. As of last month, individuals wishing to enroll in the program will be placed on a waitlist instead. Exceptions will be made for pregnant women, children 18 years or younger, and patients with active opportunistic infections (infections that occur only in people with compromised immune systems). In addition, an estimated 760 people currently in the Virginia ADAP who have stable immune systems (CD4, or white blood cell, counts of 350 or higher) or who have not fulfilled a prescription through ADAP within the last 5 months will be removed from the program. The rules also limit the drugs available under the program to antiretrovirals, treatments for opportunistic infections, and certain vaccines. Government officials project that the cutbacks will be in place through at least April 2012. For more information, please see The Roanoke Times or the Virginia Department of Health.

Phase 2 Clinical Trial Recruits Treatment-Experienced HIV-Positive Adults For Treatment With Investigational Antiretroviral Drug – A Phase 2 clinical trial, sponsored by Pfizer, is currently recruiting participants at over 70 locations nationally and internationally. The trial will test the safety and efficacy of UK-453061, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) under development, as compared to Intelence (etravirine) in treatment-experienced patients with NNRTI resistance. The trial will measure the number of study participants who achieve and maintain viral suppression (undetectable amounts of HIV in the blood) after 24 weeks. For more information, please see the U.S. Clinical Trials Registry.

Phase 2 Clinical Trial In Philadelphia Recruits HIV-Positive Injection Drug Users For Treatment With Investigational HIV Antibody – A Phase 2 clinical trial in Philadelphia will test the safety and efficacy of an investigational anti-HIV drug PRO 140 (anti-CCR5 monoclonal antibody) in HIV-positive injection drug users. The antibody drug, made by Progenics Pharmaceuticals, is an entry inhibitor that works in a similar manner as Selzentry (maraviroc); it is designed for people who have previously failed treatment and will supplement regular antiretroviral therapy. The drug is administered by injections under the skin rather than taken in pill form. The study will test to see how many study participants achieve and maintain viral suppression over a period of 24 weeks. For more information, please see the U.S. Clinical Trials Registry.

AIDSinfo Updates Fact Sheets On HIV And Pregnancy – AIDSinfo, a website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has updated its factsheets on HIV and pregnancy. The updates take into account the most recent guidelines on treatment of HIV during pregnancy, released in May 2010 (see related AIDS Beacon news). A new factsheet on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has also been added to the website. For more information, please see the AIDSinfo website.

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[ by | Nov 22, 2010 3:18 pm | Comments Off ]

Medicare Finalizes Hospital Visitation Rules For Same-Sex Partners – The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have finalized new rules for hospitals regarding patient visitation rights. Under the new rules, any hospital that receives funding from Medicare or Medicaid must inform all patients of their rights to visitors and establish policies for patients to grant visitation privileges to whomever they choose. Previously, visitation rights were usually restricted to immediate family members, excluding same-sex domestic partners. This was often a problem in the HIV/AIDS community, since HIV disproportionately affects gay men. The rules do still allow hospitals to exclude visitors for certain medical reasons. The new rules are a result of a Presidential Memorandum issued by President Obama earlier this year (see related AIDS Beacon news) and will take effect January 18, 2011. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

Pope Benedict Says Condom Use May Be Permitted For Prevention Of HIV Transmission – In a newly released book, Pope Benedict for the first time has stated that condom use may be justified for preventing the spread of HIV. The Catholic Church usually does not accept the use of any contraception, and this policy has not changed. However, Pope Benedict has acknowledged that using condoms to prevent HIV transmission may be morally acceptable. The statements were made in his new book, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times.” AIDS activists have hailed the remarks as a breakthrough for prevention of HIV transmission, since the Church’s stance on condoms has been a barrier to their use by many Catholics. For more information, please see the Reuters news article.

HIV DART 2010 Conference Convenes December 7 – The HIV DART 2010 conference will be held December 7 to 10 in Los Cabos, Mexico. The conference is titled “Frontiers in Drug Development for Antiretroviral Therapies.” Topics will include HIV resistance, development of new antiretrovirals, attempts to eliminate latent HIV (HIV that lies dormant but can be reactivated when antiretrovirals are stopped), treatment of lipodystrophy (abnormal fat distribution), and other areas. For more information or to register, please see the HIV DART 2010 website.

AIDSinfo’s HIV/AIDS Glossary Now Available As A Free iPhone Application – AIDSinfo has announced that its HIV/AIDS Glossary is now available as a free iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch application. The glossary includes over 850 common HIV- and AIDS-related terms in both English and Spanish. The application is available for download from Apple’s online iTunes store. For more information on the AIDSinfo HIV/AIDS Glossary application, please see the iTunes application page.