April 20, 2011

New Condom Nears Approval

LONDON—A new erection-enhancing condom product, dubbed "Viagra for condoms," is nearing regulatory approval and could be on sale in Europe by the end of the year.

Analysts say the condoms, which contain a gel that helps men maintain a firmer erection for longer, could make a significant splash in the condom market, where innovation is rare and patent-protected inventions are hard to come by.

The product could also provide a boost to Durex, the world's biggest-selling condom brand, not least in the U.S., the world's largest market and one where Durex has struggled to gain a sizable market share.

European regulatory approval for the product, developed by U.K. biotechnology firm Futura Medical PLC and licensed to Durex's owner SSL International, was held up during SSL's takeover last year by consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC. Futura now expects the green light in the first half of 2011, meaning the condom, named CSD500, could be on the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets by the end of the year.

April 18, 2011

Disappointing end to an important study shows PrEP may not work in women

In the latest twist on the biomedical prevention roller-coaster, a trial testing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in women has ended early because it failed to show positive results. That is bad news. It is also surprising news given the same intervention seems to have worked with men who have sex with men. Why the FEM-PrEP Project did not show positive outcomes is not yet known. Adherence to the drug seems to have been high, but we do not yet know how adherence was measured. Too many biomedical prevention trials have relied on self-report adherence, making negative results difficult to interpret. It is also possible that the different HIV transmission dynamics of vaginal and anal intercourse account for the findings. In addition, risk reduction counseling, condoms, and repeated testing that all women received may have reduced the study's statistical power. We will have to wait for more information.

One thing is clear. The behavioral implications of PrEP remain as important as ever. Behavioral and social scientists working in AIDS should pay close attention to what we hear next and consider how 30 years of behavioral research may help move biomedical prevention technologies along. The Press Release is reproduced below.

April 18, 2011

Following a scheduled interim review of the FEM-PrEP study data, the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) advised that the FEM-PrEP study will be highly unlikely to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of Truvada [emtricitabine (FTC) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)] in preventing HIV infection in the study population, even if it continued to its originally planned conclusion.

March 27, 2011

Gay couples could benefit from testing together

Couples-based HIV counseling and testing is well received by gay American men
Study published in AIDS and Behavior
A number of American men who have sex with men are supportive of couples-based voluntary HIV counseling and testing (CVCT), in which couples receive counseling and their HIV test results together, according to a new study by Dr. Rob Stephenson from Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, USA, and his colleagues. The authors argue that there may be a demand among gay men for this effective strategy, used in Africa amongst heterosexual couples, albeit with some adaptations to the protocol to make it relevant in the US. The work is published online in Springer's journal, AIDS and Behavior.

March 8, 2011

Optimizing Sexual Risk Reduction for Urban STD Clinic Patients

by Michael P. Carey, Ph.D.
Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University

Each year, millions of Americans acquire a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Some of these STIs can be cured by medication; others, particularly those caused by viruses, cannot be cured. Thus, tens of millions of sexually active people have lifelong STIs, like herpes, HPV, and HIV, which they may unknowingly pass on to their sexual partners. Some of these STIs have serious consequences, such as permanent damage to reproductive functioning, cancer or AIDS.

To reduce the prevalence and minimize the consequences of STIs, many cities have clinics that provide free (or low cost) testing and treatment. These clinics also provide counseling to help patients reduce their risk of acquiring STIs. It is important to continue improving the effectiveness of such preventive counseling in STI clinical services.

We conducted a study to test a novel two-step approach to delivering sexual risk reduction counseling. The first step involved a brief 15-minute counseling session during a clinic visit. The second step involved a 4-hour workshop about sexual health.

February 6, 2011

HIV/AIDS stigma in Africa: Is the church part of the problem or part of the solution?

By Catherine Campbell, Morten Skovdal and Andrew Gibbs
Institute of Social Psychology, London School of Economics and Political Science

HIV/AIDS-related stigma is one of the key drivers of the AIDS epidemic in many settings. Stigma prevents many people from seeking proper information about how to protect their sexual health, accessing services when they are ill from AIDS, and adhering to their medication.

Where does the stigma come from?
Stigma is rooted in a number of factors. Chief amongst these is a sense of social embarrassment about sex – closely related to conservative social moralities inherent in many societies. Such moralities play a key role in the social control of women and young people by adult men.

This is often manifested in social systems in which female sexuality is strictly controlled by husbands or boyfriends, and where young people are expected to remain celibate. The latter is often an unrealistic expectation; there are few cultures and contexts in which youth do not engage in some form of sexual activity, albeit often in secret. Women are expected to remain faithful to their husbands.

December 7, 2010

HIV prevention efforts go mobile

by Matt Baume

AIDS advocacy organizations are increasingly building high-tech online tools to keep safer sex at the top of San Franciscans' minds.
Among those new tools are a sex-education app for the iPhone and iPad, condom-locators, a conference on youth media and sexual health, and a revamped website for the San Francisco AIDS foundation.
The digital emphasis coincides with two new studies in the journal AIDS and Behavior that indicate a need for more online outreach.
One study found that men who pursue "online partnerships" are more likely to engage in unsafe sex. Although Internet hookups themselves do not necessarily cause riskier behavior, the authors concluded, online usage may be a "marker" of a tendency towards heightened risk-taking.

October 4, 2010

Can Mobile Phones Revolutionize the Clinical Care of People Living with AIDS In Resource Poor Settings?

By Setor Kunutsor
Institute of Health Sciences, Leeds University
The World Health Organization has urged the use of cell phones and other mobile communication technology to improve the quality of health care delivered in resource-poor countries. 
Mobile phones are one of the most promising emerging health tools, with the potential to address many of the challenges facing access to care and adherence to antiretroviral treatment among people living with HIV/AIDS in these settings. Africa has the highest rate of mobile phone uptake among developing regions and there is rapid continuous expansion of cell phone use across all socio-demographic groups. Our research examined the potential for mobile phones to enhance HIV/AIDS care in southern Africa.