New book on interactions between HIV and rural livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa

February 27, 2016

"Because of their weakened immune system, people living with HIV are less able to fight TB infection and are more likely to develop active TB which can be deadly and can spread to others. ??  Taking medicine containing the anti-TB drug isoniazid is a simple and cost-effective measure that prevents the TB bacteria from becoming active if it is present," according to a WHO press release. The release notes that while treatment with Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) "is not new ?? it has been underused. Only 85,000 (or 0.2%) of all people living with HIV received isoniazid for TB prevention in 2009."

"[B]ased on new scientific evidence that updates the previous 1998 policy," the WHO recommends: "children and adults living with HIV, including pregnant women and those receiving antiretroviral treatment, should receive isoniazid prevention therapy"; "Isoniazid should be provided for six to 36 months, or as a life-long treatment in settings with high HIV and TB prevalence"; "People living with HIV who may have TB symptoms should be further screened for active TB or other conditions so that they are able to access the appropriate treatments," according to the release (12/1).

Also In HIV/AIDS News: ART, HIV Vaccine; Implications Of Pope's Comments For Catholic AID Workers In Africa; HIV In South Africa

The Financial Times examines how antiretroviral therapy (ART) changed the HIV/AIDS landscape, by helping to extend the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and by reducing the ability of patient's infected with the virus who are taking ARTs to spread the virus to others. "With the continued failure to develop an effective HIV vaccine, some public health experts see ART as an alternative way to prevent infection spreading," the news service writes. The piece continues: "Modelling studies suggest that HIV transmission could be eliminated within 10 years through a huge expansion of ART" to all patients living with HIV, a strategy termed "treatment as prevention."

"Although small-scale trials of treatment as prevention are being organised in North America and South Africa, there would be huge practical, financial and ethical obstacles to overcome before the strategy could be rolled out globally," the Financial Times writes. An accompanying Financial Times sidebar examines recent progress in the development of an HIV vaccine (Cookson, 11/30). 

The Associated Press reports on the impact Pope Benedict XVI's recent statements on condoms could have on Catholic HIV/AIDS workers in Africa, "the continent with the highest numbers" of HIV/AIDS cases "and the fastest-growing number of Catholic converts."

The article continues, "For many Catholics in the front lines watching people die of AIDS, Benedict's pronouncement confers a belated blessing on what they are already doing," as described by Catholic leaders and AIDS workers in the piece. "Still, Catholic AIDS workers insisted that only abstinence and fidelity can provide a long-term solution to ending the AIDS pandemic. They said condoms should not be distributed indiscriminately, for fear they might promote promiscuity and worsen the crisis. The largest Catholic donor in the world, the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, has reiterated that it will not be distributing condoms (12/1).

More than 200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa have started antiretrovirals (ARVs) since April, bringing the total number of patients receiving the drugs in the country to one million, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said during a World AIDS Day event on Wednesday, AFP reports. While noting the gains in treatment access, Motlanthe said, "It is important to emphasize that even as we continue to make headway with our treatment programme, prevention remains the mainstay of our response to the dual epidemic of HIV and TB" (Timse, 12/1).

An AP story features comments from an interview with South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, including his concerns over the cost of treatment.  "'If we stop anything, we will just reverse all our gains,' [Motsoaledi] said." The health minister also "said private groups working in South Africa have told him they are struggling because of a drop in international funds, blamed in part on the global recession," according to the AP. The article examines the country's "ambitious testing and treatment campaign and more vigorous efforts to stop the disease's spread" that were announced on World AIDS Day 2009 (Faul, 12/1).

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.