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CROI 2015: Retrovirus Conference Starts Monday in Seattle

The 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) takes place next week, February 23-26, at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. CROI focuses on HIV treatment, prevention, and basic science. For the past several years it has also included substantial hepatitis C content, and this year will feature presentations on Ebola virus. HIVandHepatitis.com will be on site in Seattle all week bringing you news coverage and Twitter updates (@HIVandHepatitis).

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Researchers May Have Caught HIV Becoming More Virulent in Cuba

A study from Cuba, recently published online in EBioMedicine, has generated wide media interest because researchers have identified a particular variety of the virus, dubbed CRF19_cpx, that is associated with rapid post-diagnosis drops in CD4 T-cell count and progression to AIDS. In the study, all of the still relatively small minority of people with this viral variant progressed to clinically defined AIDS within 3 years of infection. The variant also seems to be becoming more common in Cuba and may partly explain what appears to be an increase in the proportion of people who progress rapidly to AIDS. However, it is not a drug-resistant strain and antiretroviral therapy (ART) works just as well against it as it does against any other strain of HIV.

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Novel Entry Inhibitor May Provide Vaccine-like Protection Against HIV

A potential new therapy using a molecule that mimics both the CD4 receptor and the CCR5 co-receptor can stop an HIV-like virus from entering host cells, researchers reported in the February 18 online edition of Nature. Monkeys given gene therapy to produce the eCD4-Ig protein did not become infected after repeated virus exposures, suggesting it may be an effective HIV vaccine alternative as well as a long-acting therapy.

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Progress and Problems in the Search for a Cure for HIV

Leading experts discussed the latest developments in the search for an HIV cure at a January 13 Center for AIDS Research symposium in San Francisco, following a year of disappointing setbacks in the field. Researchers are increasingly focusing on a "functional cure" -- or remission -- that would allow people with HIV to remain off antiretroviral therapy (ART) for prolonged periods, as the hopes for true viral eradication have dimmed.

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Screening for Bone Fracture Risk Should Be Routine for HIV+ People over 40

Screening for fracture risk should be a routine part of HIV care for all people over 40, and all postmenopausal women, all men over 50, and people at high risk for fractures of any age should undergo DEXA screening (a type of X-ray) to assess bone mineral density and their need for treatment, experts on bone disorders recommend in new guidelines published in the January 21 online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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New Clues about Viral Rebound in Mississippi Child Thought Cured of HIV

Clinicians involved in the care of a child many once hoped was cured of HIV have published details about the case in the February 15 New England Journal of Medicine. The authors found that the virus that eventually returned after the girl had been off antiretroviral therapy for more than 2 years was identical to her mother's viral strain.

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Study of Truvada PrEP and Tenofovir Vaginal Gel Misses Mark Due to Low Adherence

The final published report in the New England Journal of Medicine from the VOICE trial of HIV prevention for women in 3 African countries mainly reinforces what conference presentations have already shown: this ambitious trial failed to demonstrate the effectiveness of either oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or of a tenofovir-containing vaginal microbicide gel, and the reason for this was that only 25%-30% of women actually used the study product, despite 88% claiming they did so. The gel, however, may have stopped 2 out of 3 infections among women who used it.

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