Tag Archives: infections

CDC: Number of new HIV infections falls in United States

The United States is seeing a strong and steady decline in the number of new HIV infections.

However, there was a 35 percent increase among gay and bisexual men ages 25-34.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which uses blood test results to help date infections, says new HIV infections dropped by nearly 18 percent over six years.

The trend suggests stepped-up efforts to diagnose and treat infections are paying off.

The CDC found that between 2008 and 2014, new infections fell:

  • 18 percent in the overall population, from 45,700 to 37,600.
  • 36 percent among heterosexuals.
  • 56 percent among people who inject drugs.

Two-thirds of the people diagnosed with HIV each year are gay and bisexual men. The CDC saw substantial declines in new infections in very young and in middle-aged men in this group.

However, there was a 35 percent increase in men ages 25 to 34.

The CDC also estimated annual HIV infections in 35 states and reported no state saw an increase.

Seven states showed significant decreases — Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

ARCW opens new ‘medical home’ in Madison

On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin opened a new full-service center for people with HIV/AIDS on Madison’s east side.

The new center is the product of a collaboration involving ARCW, UW Health and the former AIDS Network, which merged with ARCW about 10 months ago. 

“The main purpose is to make sure that anyone in the Madison area who either has HIV or is at high risk for HIV has a place where they can go and get whatever service they need,” says Dr. Robert Striker, associate professor at the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

ARCW refers to its centers as “medical homes,” because of the “integrated, comprehensive model of care we provide,” says Bill Keeton, ARCW’s vice president of government and public relations. The medical homes provide the full array of services needed to properly manage cases of HIV and AIDS. 

“All of our medical, dental, mental health, pharmacy, food pantry, legal, case management and housing services are available under one roof,” Keeton explains. “And all of our staff are talking to one another to ensure our patients are successful in managing their HIV disease.”

ARCW is the state’s largest HIV health care system. It serves nearly 3,000 patients. It’s also a leading provider of prevention and testing services targeting the people most at-risk for HIV, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections.

ARCW’s staff has direct contact with 160,000 clients per year in its Milwaukee, Appleton and Madison centers.

The latest addition to ARCW’s system is at 600 Williamson St. It offers care five days a week to anyone, regardless of ability to pay. The Madison center benefits from a partnership with UW Health, which consists of the academic health care programs at UW-Madison, including: University Hospital and Clinics, the School of Medicine and Public Health, the American Family Children’s Hospital and the Carbone Cancer Center.

“(UW Health) has been involved in community outreach in many ways for a long time,” Striker says. “I think UW Health prides itself specifically on providing great HIV care for 30 years, now. … This is a new way to partner with an organization that shares our goals — making sure that people who need HIV care get it.”

Outreach is more important than ever in controlling the disease, Striker says. “The availability of new prevention tools means that the fight against HIV has to occur in as many different places as possible. Providing it in more locations makes it easier to reach patients who don’t realize that there’s a way to prevent HIV, or who have a hard time accessing that prevention.”

“I’ve been taking care of people with HIV since 1995, and it’s just amazing how much more we can do now to make sure that everyone who has HIV can have a normal productive life,” says Striker. “It’s a great thing to have been involved with, to see how care for HIV patients has gotten so much better.”

ARCW now also offers access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP.

PrEP works by providing HIV-negative individuals who are at high risk for contracting HIV with the same medication used to help HIV-positive individuals successfully minimize the amount of virus they have in their body. PrEP has been shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing new HIV infections when used correctly. Combined with access to health care, regular testing and other HIV prevention strategies such as condoms, PrEP might represent a game-changing development in the fight to eradicate HIV.

Get connected

The clinic can be reached at 608-252-6540 and 800-486-6276. For more information about statewide programs, visit www.arcw.org or call 800-359-9272.

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin observes World AIDS Day, highlights opening of Madison medical home

The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin is recognizing World AIDS Day by highlighting the opening of its newest HIV medical home in Madison.

The ARCW HIV medical home provides integrated medical, dental and mental health care along with a pharmacy and critical social services to make sure people with HIV have all the tools they need to live a long, healthy life with HIV, according to a news release.

“World AIDS Day is a day set aside to remember the countless number of loved ones we have lost, to support the thousands of people living with HIV today who need access to health care and treatment and to rededicate ourselves to doing all we can as individuals and as a society to eliminate new infections from occurring,” ARCW president and CEO Michael J. Gifford stated. “The opening of new medical home in Madison and our ongoing dedication to expanding HIV prevention and testing services to all who need them everywhere in Wisconsin are just two of the ways we mark this solemn and important day.”

ARCW also is offering access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, as an integral component of its health care and prevention services. PrEP works by providing HIV-negative individuals who are at high risk for contracting HIV with the same medication used to help HIV-positive individuals successfully minimize the amount of the virus they have in their body.

PrEP has been shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing new HIV infections when used correctly. Combined with access to health care, regular testing and other HIV prevention strategies such as condoms, PrEP provides people with a game-changing way to stop HIV.

“Today, unlike the first World AIDS Day, we have the tools and medical science to provide patients with a long, healthy life with HIV disease and to stop new infections from occurring almost completely. What we still need now is what we needed then — the collective will from our private and public leaders to join us and seize upon the opportunity we have before us,” Gifford stated. “There is much to be excited for as we look forward to a world in which everyone with HIV has unfettered access to health care, in which new infections are truly rare, and where people with HIV no longer face the stigma that helps to drive this epidemic forward.”

Get connected

HIV patients and people at-risk for HIV who would like to learn more about ARCW programs and services designed for them can visit www.arcw.org, call 800-359-9272 from anywhere in Wisconsin or contact their local ARCW office by using http://www.arcw.org/locations/.

Indiana governor OKs needle-exchange program after signing law allowing religion-based discrimination

Faced with a growing HIV outbreak tied to intravenous drug use, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence overrode state law and his own anti-drug policies to authorize a needle-exchange program to help contain new infections in a rural county.

More than 72 new HIV cases have been reported among people who either live in southern Indiana’s Scott County or have connections to the area. Seven additional people have preliminary positive HIV infections.

The new cases are spreading fast: A month ago, there were 26 cases in the county. All of the cases are tied to intravenous drug use.

Pence had previously declared a state of emergency in Scott County, which usually sees only about five HIV cases each year, according to health officials.

The move was uncharacteristic for Pence, a far-right conservative who also signed into law today a controversial bill designed to legalize discrimination against LGBT people for religious reasons. Under the new law, which was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature, fundamentalist Christians in Indiana can now fire LGBT people and refuse to rent, provide services or credit to them without facing lawsuits. Critics say the law would also permit people to cite religion to discriminate against Jews, Muslims, blacks and other minorities.

Ironically, same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

“Today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said in signing the law.

But the governor put aside his right-wing ideology temporarily to allow the needle exchange program after being persuaded to do so by the state’s public health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Needle-exchange programs allow people to turn in used hypodermic needles and get clean ones in an effort to keep diseases such as HIV and hepatitis from spreading. Such programs are illegal in Indiana.

The number of HIV cases in Scott County is expected to rise. Officials are trying to contact as many as 100 people tied to those with confirmed infections of the virus that causes AIDS.

Indiana has launched an awareness campaign that includes billboards and social media. State health commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams said a mobile unit will be sent to the county with resources to help combat the outbreak, which spreads fast when people infected with the virus share needles with others.

In Scott County, the drug at the root of the epidemic is a liquid form of the prescription painkiller Opana.

State health officials and staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the outbreak “is an indicator of a larger problem,” which is rampant IV drug use in the economically depressed region of the state.


Study: Potent new drug candidate blocks HIV strains

U.S. scientists say they have created a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of an unconventional vaccine and could be used in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The research, which involved scientists from more than a dozen research institutions, was published February 18 online ahead of print by the prestigious journal Nature.

The study shows that the new drug candidate blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants. It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.

“Our compound is the broadest and most potent entry inhibitor described so far,” said Michael Farzan, a TSRI professor who led the effort announced on Feb. 18 by The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida. “Unlike antibodies, which fail to neutralize a large fraction of HIV-1 strains, our protein has been effective against all strains tested, raising the possibility it could offer an effective HIV vaccine alternative.”

Blocking a Second Site

When HIV infects a cell, it targets the CD4 lymphocyte, an integral part of the body’s immune system. HIV fuses with the cell and inserts its own genetic material — in this case, single-stranded RNA — and transforms the host cell into an HIV manufacturing site.

The new study builds on previous discoveries by the Farzan laboratory, which show that a co-receptor called CCR5 contains unusual modifications in its critical HIV-binding region and that proteins based on this region can be used to prevent infection.

With this knowledge, Farzan and his team developed the new drug candidate so that it binds to two sites on the surface of the virus simultaneously, preventing entry of HIV into the host cell.

“When antibodies try to mimic the receptor, they touch a lot of other parts of the viral envelope that HIV can change with ease,” said TSRI research associate Matthew Gardner, the first author of the study with Lisa M. Kattenhorn of Harvard Medical School. “We’ve developed a direct mimic of the receptors without providing many avenues that the virus can use to escape, so we catch every virus thus far.”

The team also leveraged preexisting technology in designing a delivery vehicle — an engineered adeno-associated virus, a small, relatively innocuous virus that causes no disease. Once injected into muscle tissue, like HIV itself, the vehicle turns those cells into “factories” that could produce enough of the new protective protein to last for years, perhaps decades, Farzan said.

Data from the new study showed the drug candidate binds to the envelope of HIV-1 more potently than the best broadly neutralizing antibodies against the virus. Also, when macaque models were inoculated with the drug candidate, they were protected from multiple challenges by SIV.

“This is the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of work on the biochemistry of how HIV enters cells,” Farzan said. “When we did our original work on CCR5, people thought it was interesting, but no one saw the therapeutic potential. That potential is starting to be realized.”

In addition to Farzan, Gardner and Kattenhorn, authors of the study, “AAV-expressed eCD4-Ig provides durable protection from multiple SHIV challenges,” include Hema R. Kondur, Tatyana Dorfman, Charles C. Bailey, Christoph H. Fellinger, Vinita R. Josh, Brian D. Quinlan, Pascal Poignard and Dennis R. Burton of TSRI; Jessica J. Chiang, Michael D. Alpert, Annie Y. Yao and Ronald C. Desrosiers of Harvard Medical School; Kevin G. Haworth and Paula M. Cannon of the University of Southern California; Julie M. Decker and Beatrice H. Hahn of the University of Pennsylvania; Sebastian P. Fuchs and Jose M. Martinez-Navio of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Hugo Mouquet and Michel C. Nussenzweig of The Rockefeller University; Jason Gorman, Baoshan Zhang and Peter D. Kwong of the National Institutes of Health; Michael Piatak Jr. and Jeffrey D. Lifson of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research; Guangping Gao of the University of Massachusetts Medical School; David T. Evans of the University of Wisconsin; and Michael S. Seaman of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health through multiple grants.

CDC: HIV spread high in young gay, bi men

Health officials say one in five new HIV infections occur in a tiny segment of the population – young men who are gay or bisexual.

The government on Nov. 27 released new numbers that spotlight how the spread of the AIDS virus is heavily concentrated in young males who have sex with other males. Only about a quarter of new infections in the 13-to-24 age group are from injecting drugs or heterosexual sex.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said blacks represented more than half of new infections in youths. The estimates are based on 2010 figures.

Overall, new U.S. HIV infections have held steady at around 50,000 annually.

About 12,000 are in teens and young adults, and most youth with HIV haven’t been tested.