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NIH's Fauci Discusses Research on Microbicidal Gel,
HIV Prevention post Vienna comments
 
 
  July 26, 2010 - Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, hailed the development of a microbicidal gel that has shown promise in combating HIV infection in clinical tests, but said that scientists "must continue to pursue a range of HIV prevention modalitites," CQ HealthBeat reports.
 
A recent study in South Africa found that a vaginal microbicidal gel significantly reduced women's risk of contracting HIV. Women can apply the gel before or after sexual intercourse if a sex partner refuses to use a condom.
 
The study proves that an antiretroviral drug can be effectively formulated into a gel, Fauci said. "Given that women make up the majority of new HIV infections throughout the world, this finding is an important step toward empowering an at-risk population with a safe and effective HIV prevention tool," he added. Because "no one approach will be appropriate or acceptable to all," scientists also must continue to pursue development of vaccines and the use of antiretrovirals as preventive measures, Fauci said.
 
An NIAID study launched last fall is expected to enroll 5,000 women in four southern African countries to "provide additional safety and effectiveness data" on the gel and "offer some insight as to the gel's acceptability as a product used once a day rather than one that is used before and after sexual intercourse," according to Fauci (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/22).
 
Obama, Sec. Clinton Pledge U.S. Support in Global Fight
 
During the close of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna on Friday, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. is committed to the global fight against HIV/AIDS and will lead efforts for a sustainable and effective response, the AP/Washington Post reports. The July 2012 International AIDS Conference is scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C.
 
In a prerecorded video, Obama said, "Ending this pandemic won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight." He added, "But thanks to you, we've come a long way and the United States is committed to continuing that progress." Clinton said in the video that the U.S. supports efforts toward universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, adding that health care is a human right. "As we push to expand access to these resources, the United States will continue to work with our partner countries and with civil society to help empower citizens to lead the charge in their own countries," he said (Oleksyn, AP/Washington Post, 7/23).
 
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Interview: U.S. still has a problem with HIV: U.S. NIAID director
 
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The United States still has a problem with HIV and the U.S. government faces a challenge in combating HIV/AIDS, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
 
Fauci just came back from the 18th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010), which he described as "one of the better conference we had over the last several years."
 
AIDS 2010, held in Vienna, Austria, is the platform for those working in the field of HIV, as well as pol icy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic to exchange their views on the current situation of global HIV prevention and treatment, new research in this field and recent scientific developments.
 
"We have now about 575,000 death already since the beginning ( of AIDS). There are 1.1 million people infected with HIV and unfortunately 21 percent of them do not know they are infected. Those are the ones who unwillingly and unknowingly go on to infect other people," Fauci said. "And that's the reason we need to do better in testing people and identifying them and getting them on the therapy. Fauci said there are about 56,000 new HIV infections each year in the United States and although the problem with HIV has weakened, it's still "at a non-acceptable high level."
 
In combating the deadly virus, the U.S. government faces a challenge, said Fauci, an immunologist that has made substantial contributions to research in the areas of AIDS and other immunodeficiencies, both as a scientist and as the head of NIAID.
 
"That is still a lot of new infections each year in the United States, for which we need to take care of ourselves, as well as our responsibility and our activity to help people in developing world where there are 2.7 million new infections each year," Fauci said. "So the big challenge is to prevent new infections, including by the development of a vaccine. We consider that one of our important goals."
 
Fauci thought the new National AIDS Strategy unveiled by U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago is "very important," based on the fact that the U.S. need to, first of all, prevent new infecti ons and secondly, a great access to care for those who are infected.
 
"We need to lessen and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities because there is a great deal of disparity, " said Fauci.
 
According to the AIDS expert, the African American population in the United States is much more prone to get infected. About 50 percent of the new infections in the United States are among African Americans. And yet African Americans comprise only 12-13 percent of the United States population. The White House on July 13 unveiled a strategy to tackle the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic with a plan targeting communities that are most vulnerable to the disease.
 
At the strategy's core is a push to allocate funding to the country's most at-risk populations -- gays, Latinos, blacks and intravenous drug users -- and educate them about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
 
Fauci said the strategy adds no money to the campaign of fighting AIDS but asks states and federal agencies to spend the money more wisely, more efficiently. "What the president is asking for is to spend (the money) in a wiser way to avoid duplication, to enhance all of the care so that you can get more people into testing to get them treated," said Fauci.
 
 
 
 
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