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The lifetime cost of current HIV care in the United States

AIDS/HIVNov 02 06

“The Lifetime Cost of Current HIV Care in the United States,” a major study appearing in the November 2006 issue of Medical Care, projects the cost of treatment for HIV-infected adults using current standards of care. The study provides guidance for policy makers so that appropriate funds are allocated for HIV care and prevention.

“Policy makers need accurate and up-to-date predictions of the future expense of HIV treatment if they seek to ensure broad access to high-quality care,” says lead author Dr. Bruce R. Schackman, Chief of the Division of Health Policy in the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College. “If they rely on outdated cost information, treatment programs will be under-funded and the economic value of HIV prevention will be understated.”

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Stigma, discrimination in India hindering HIV/AIDS treatment, care

AIDS/HIVOct 30 06

The stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS in India is delaying treatment and care for HIV-positive people, according to a study conducted by the Population Council’s Horizons program; Sharan, an Indian nongovernmental organization; and the New Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth, IRIN/Kenya London News reports.

The study, titled “Reducing AIDS-Related Stigma and Discrimination in Indian Hospitals,” includes interviews with hospital administrators, physicians, nurses and HIV-positive people and their caregivers at two state-owned hospitals and one private hospital in New Delhi from 2002 through 2004.

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HIV/AIDS and poverty in Zambia threatens economic growth

AIDS/HIVOct 30 06

HIV/AIDS and poverty in Zambia “are threatening” economic growth the country has achieved since gaining its independence in 1964, President Levy Mwanawasa said last week in a speech on the eve of Zambia’s 42nd anniversary of independence, Reuters reports.

According to official statistics, one in five of the country’s 11.5 million residents is HIV-positive, and 65% of the population lives on less than $1 per day.

“We must be aware that the (AIDS) pandemic is capable of reversing all the gains we have made since independence,” Mwanawasa, who was re-elected earlier in the month for a second term, said.

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HIV exploits competition among T cells - points to new strategy for AIDS vaccination

AIDS/HIVOct 19 06

A new HIV study shows how competition among the human immune system’s T cells allows the virus to escape destruction and eventually develop into full-blown AIDS.

The study, which employs a computer model of simultaneous virus and immune system evolution, also suggests a new strategy for vaccinating against the virus - a strategy that the computer simulations suggest may prevent the final onset of AIDS.

The research, which is slated for publication in Physical Review Letters.

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US health body urges routine AIDS testing for all

AIDS/HIVSep 22 06

The U.S. government recommended near-universal testing for the AIDS virus on Thursday, saying too many people are missed by the current practice of focusing on people who seem to be at high risk.

Nearly everyone aged from 13 to 64 would be screened under the new proposals issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnant women would get extra screening to help ensure they do not pass the virus on to their baby.

The human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS infects more than 1 million people in the United States and the CDC estimates that 40,000 people become newly infected every year.

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Smokers may have higher risk of HIV

AIDS/HIVSep 22 06

Smoking, already linked to several illnesses, may also increase the risk of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, researchers said on Thursday.

In a review of studies that looked at the association between smoking and HIV, British doctors said five of the six studies they analysed showed smokers had a higher chance of becoming infected.

Nine of 10 other studies in the review that tracked the progression from HIV to AIDS found no link with smoking.

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Five nations start fund to help poor overcome AIDS

AIDS/HIVSep 21 06

Five nations launched an initiative on Tuesday to raise at least $300 million next year to buy generic drugs at steep volume discounts to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries.

Leaders from France, Brazil, Britain, Norway and Chile, joined by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, unveiled UNITAID, a global purchasing body that will try to negotiate low prices with drug makers.

“None of this would be possible if it weren’t the ability UNITAID gives us ... to go out to the people who provide medicine and other life saving equipment and material and say ‘You have a guaranteed stream of payment, you will be promptly paid, now give us a higher volume and a lower profit margin,’” Clinton told a news conference at U.N. headquarters.

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Gut Tissue is Major Reservoir Harboring AIDS

AIDS/HIVAug 28 06

FINDINGS: UCLA researchers have found the human gut to be a major reservoir harboring the HIV virus -  holding almost twice as much as a person’s blood. In addition, the virus stored in the gut does not decay or reduce over time, as is also the case with blood-related reservoirs. It is well-known that peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and lymph nodes are principal reservoirs harboring the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The role of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) in this setting, however, had not been properly evaluated until now. Researchers from the Center for Prevention Research and the UCLA AIDS Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, in collaboration with the AIDS Research Alliance in West Hollywood, Calif., collaborated on this research.

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S. African AIDS activists in court for protests

AIDS/HIVAug 24 06

Zackie Achmat, one of South Africa’s top AIDS activists, appeared in court on Tuesday on trespassing charges after leading a protest against government policies to fight the disease.

Achmat and dozens of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) activists were arrested last week for demonstrating in a government building in Cape Town.

The court appearances came barely a week after the South African government’s AIDS policies came under renewed attack at a global conference in Canada, with campaigners venting their anger against the health minister.

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Bangladesh worker angry at US AIDS help restrictions

AIDS/HIVAug 21 06

A U.S. “loyalty oath” that aims to curb prostitution and prevent sex trafficking has stymied one group’s efforts to educate sex workers in Bangladesh and left thousands of women without support, a local activist said on Thursday.

Her eyes filling with tears, Hazera Bagum said her group, Durjoy Nari Shangha, had closed drop-in centers for sex workers in the Bangladesh capital in order to win U.S. funding.

“This feeling is like a broken heart, it’s like a broken family,” she said through a translator at a news conference during the 16th International Conference on AIDS in Toronto.

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AIDS 2006 new studies and developments

AIDS/HIVAug 21 06

As part of its expanded coverage of the XVI International AIDS Conference, held through Aug. 18 in Toronto, the Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report will feature studies and initiatives released during the conference. Summaries of select publications and initiatives appear below.

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Food a basic need in HIV fight

AIDS/HIVAug 18 06

Drugs are no good without food in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and the essential role of proper nutrition has been forgotten, the United Nations World Food Program said on Wednesday.

Organizers of the 16th International AIDS Conference marked a small victory with the announcement that more than 1.6 million people globally now receive lifesaving HIV drugs.

But without proper food, victims of the disease have little will to live, the World Food Program said.

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Canada HIV/AIDS care falls short, advocates says

AIDS/HIVAug 18 06

Canada’s government-funded public health system falls short on timely and equal access to medicines for HIV/AIDS patients, a health advocacy group said on Wednesday.

An unwieldy drug review process and a patchwork of federal, provincial and territorial drug reimbursement plans, each with different coverage standards, mean that patients often must relocate to get the drugs they need, the group said.

“It is a total myth that people have access, and equal access, across the country to medications,” Louise Binder, chair of the Canadian Treatment Action Council told reporters. “You literally have to move from one province to another to stay alive.”

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Bristol-Myers sending AIDS doctors to Africa

AIDS/HIVAug 18 06

U.S. drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is sending 250 pediatric doctors over the next five years to sub-Saharan Africa to fight HIV/AIDS, part of a growing push to target infants and children in the battle against the epidemic.

The initiative is a joint venture with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and was announced Wednesday at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto.

The United Nations AIDS agency UNAIDS estimates that 2.3 million children under 15 years of age were living with HIV in 2005, nearly 90 percent of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Rapid tests mean more learn HIV status: study

AIDS/HIVAug 18 06

Rapid HIV tests lead to more people getting tested and receiving their results, according to a study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs presented at the 16th International AIDS Conference.

Both traditional testing and newer rapid tests were likely to result in higher screening rates for HIV, according to the study. But patients who received rapid testing were much more likely to learn their results.

HIV testing is cost-effective, but testing rates for at-risk populations in the U.S. are low. “Even people who are in care and are seeing their doctor on a regular basis, and are identified as being at risk for HIV infection, are not being tested at nearly the rate that they should be,” said Dr. Henry Anaya, who presented the study.

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