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16/Aug/2018

PHDA through its SWOP program was of the Prep Demonstration Study (Link to Prep Write up) and Self Test kits in a just ended Research Program.
“Kenya’s commitment to embracing technology and bringing to scale innovative interventions is a result of exemplary leadership in the HIV response.”
Jantine Jacobi UNAIDS Country Director, Kenya
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16/Aug/2018

There is hope for over 37 million people infected with HIV globally after five people were reported to be virus-free after undergoing treatment. According to a study published in New Scientist, a new vaccine allowed the patients to stop taking regular antiretroviral (ARV) drugs – the current method of suppressing HIV – and they were introduced to vaccines that were able to eliminate HIV cells. The study announced that the five patients were free of HIV seven months after they were put on the treatment.

The researchers say the vaccine works by teaching the human immune system to control the disease without needing medication, calling it a “functional cure”. The study included 13 participants who had taken ARVs for close to three years on average – all within six months of being infected. The researchers theorised that although the drugs kept down HIV levels, they limited the virus’ ability to integrate into their chromosomes, leaving them with relatively small “reservoirs” of infected cells.

Keep them far from swamps New Scientist, a respected American science magazine, quoted Beatriz Mothe, a clinician at IrsiCaixa Aids Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, who presented the results at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, saying the results are proof of concept that through therapeutic vaccination, we can really re-educate our T cells to control the virus. “This is the first time that we see this is possible in humans,” said Mothe. Scientists injected the participants with a series of three shots of the vaccine and they stopped taking ARVs. The scientists combined two innovative vaccines for HIV with a drug called Romidepsin that is usually used to treat cancer After four weeks, eight of the patients saw the virus rebound. But the other five patients have gone six to 28 weeks without having to restart the treatment. The virus became temporarily undetectable, but it has never gone above 2,000 copies per millilitre, which is the criterion to restart treatment. In over 30 years, scientists have been on a quest to find a cure for HIV, and this new possibility could be one that breaks the many fails and hurdles the search has always presented.

According to the Telegraph newspaper in UK, a 44-year-old British man is currently going through a treatment that targets HIV even in its dormant state, and if the treatment destroys the cells, the man will become the first person in the world to be “cured” of HIV. “The virus is completely undetectable in the man’s blood, although that could be a result of regular drugs. However if the dormant cells are also cleared it could represent the first complete cure,” reads the article. The trial is being undertaken by researchers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London and King’s College London. The man is one of 50 people currently under treatment. The cure for HIV has remained elusive over the years, and even though the invention of anti-retroviral therapies (Art) was seen as a break through, Art cannot spot dormant infected T-cells, hence cannot stop spread of the virus. The new therapy works in two stages. In the first stage, a vaccine helps the body recognise the HIV-infected cells so it can clear them out. Secondly, a new drug called Vorinostat activates the dormant T-cells so they can be spotted by the immune system. The man going through the treatment has gone through a series of tests, which showed no sign of the virus. ALSO READ: Help! I found all my kukus dead “It has worked in the laboratory and there is good evidence it will work in humans too, but we must stress we are still a long way from any actual therapy,” said Prof Sarah Fidler, a consultant physician at Imperial College London in a report compiled by the Telegraph in the UK. The UK scientists say by 2018, they will know if the therapy has completely eliminated HIV.


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16/Aug/2018

One surprise winner in the proposed Trump administration budget will be HIV/AIDS funding, despite a nearly 18 percent cut to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Though activists were preparing to work with a smaller, even debilitating amount of federal funding, the budget states that programs like Ryan White HIV/AIDS providers are the Department of Health and Human Services “highest priorities.”

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program helps provide health care services to people with HIV who don’t have health insurance. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 52 percent of all those diagnosed with HIV in the United States utilize the program.

Enacted in 1990, it is the largest federal program made for people who suffer from HIV, and makes up 12 percent of the government funding for HIV/AIDS care in the United States — totaling approximately $2.3 billion in FY2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But that isn’t the only area where the Trump administration cut around HIV/AIDS funding.

The budget promises to “provide sufficient resources to maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment under the President’s Emergency Plans for AIDS Relief.”

Also known as PEPFAR, the successful program was first started by President George W. Bush and provides AIDS and HIV drugs and funding to millions of people and initiatives across the world — though much goes to nations in Africa. PEPFAR has provided between $6.5 billion and $6.9 billion to HIV/AIDS funds since 2009.

“What’s unknown is how this might affect a whole range of other programs that provide HIV support: in awareness, research, prevention, housing and other areas,” said Dr. Jen Kates, the director of Global Health and HIV Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“It’s not a slam dunk by any stretch,” she added.

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President Donald Trump said almost nothing about AIDS during the campaign, so it comes as a surprise that he would tackle HIV with federal dollars after slashing funding for things like medical research, the National Endowment for the Arts and Public Broadcasting.

But Vice President Mike Pence is familiar with the programs, particularly Ryan White, as his website once called for Congress to conduct “an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus.”

Instead, Pence suggested that money should only be spent on organizations that “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

HIV/AIDS activists suggest vigilance until more information comes in the more detailed budget expected in May.

“We should be cautious — somewhat optimistic — but cautious given this budget is a skinny budget,” Kates said. “It’s notable that a global and a domestic HIV program are called out, but we don’t know how some of these other programs might change.”


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16/Aug/2018

We are pleased that The 3rd Government Forum on Electronic Identity in Africa will be hosted by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration (MHAI) of the Government of Namibia on 26-28 April, 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia.
This year’s theme is PATHWAYS TO DIGITAL IDENTITY

This theme recognizes that while the end goal of digital identity for all may be the same, the path for each country to arrive there is different. Country-specific factors such as context, existing identity assets, development priorities, and capacity must be taken into consideration in crafting a national strategy for the development of the digital identity ecosystem for any given country.
How to do this will be part of the overall agenda of the 3rd ID4Africa Annual Meeting 2017.


About PHDA

Partners for Health and Development in Africa (PHDA) is an international non-profit organization registered in Kenya, working in the health and development fields in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

Partners for Health and Development in Africa