Key Findings on HIV from the 2014 CROI

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday March 12, 2014

PrEP researchers Walid Heneine, Gerardo Garcia-Lerma,  Peter Anton, and Craig Hendrix during a 2011 CROI panel
PrEP researchers Walid Heneine, Gerardo Garcia-Lerma, Peter Anton, and Craig Hendrix during a 2011 CROI panel  (Source:Liz Highleyman,

HIV researchers from across the globe came together in Boston last week from March 3-6 for the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). CDC researchers from the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention presented results of more than 30 studies. Below are some of which may be of particular interest to you.

Researcher Gerardo Garcia-Lerma delved into animal studies of PrEP, Pre-Exposure Phrophylaxis, to find more whether monthly injections of GSK744 protected macaques against repeated vaginal SHIV exposure.

"Our study found that monthly injections with a long-acting formulation of the HIV integrase inhibitor GSK744 completely prevented vaginal SHIV infection in pigtail macaques," said Garcia-Lerma. "We're not yet sure what relevance the findings of our study may have for prevention in humans, but they provide additional support for human trials."

Daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) has proven effective in reducing HIV risk among adult men and women at very high risk for infection through sex or injecting drug use, but taking a pill every day can be challenging for some people. Research like Garcia-Lerma's is critical for evaluating the next generation of PrEP options, including injectable delivery methods.

Another macaque study looked at the efficacy of vaginally-delivered gels containing tenofovir and emtricitabine against rectal transmission in pigtail macaques. The study gauged whether a vaginal gel with TFV/FTC could protect against rectal SHIV exposure.

Researchers looked at new ways to attack HIV  (Source:

Researcher Laura Cooley delved into stages of the HIV continuum of care in her abstract, "Increases in HIV Testing Among MSM." The analysis, using data from 20 U.S. cities, suggests that recent efforts to increase HIV testing among key populations at high risk for infection are having a positive impact, finding that the proportion of men who have sex with men who reported recently being tested for HIV (i.e., within the past 12 months) increased significantly between 2008 and 2011.

"Among MSM in the study overall, recent testing increased from 63 percent in 2008 to 67 percent in 2011," said Cooley. "Among black MSM, recent testing increased from 63 percent to 71 percent."

This rise in testing coincided with implementation of CDC’s Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI), which provided funding in many of the cities studied to facilitate HIV screening, increase diagnoses, and enable linkage to care among populations disproportionately affected by HIV.

"Because HIV treatment can help people live healthy lives and prevent transmission of the virus to others, it is important to make improvements across all stages of care so that more HIV-infected individuals know their status and can receive the care and treatment they need," said Cooley.

This year’s conference was held in Boston  (Source:

And researcher Cheryl Ocfemia charted HIV Drug Resistance in her poster abstract, "Transmitted HIV-1 Drug Resistance among Men Who Have Sex With Men -- 11 U.S. Jurisdictions, 2008-2011." Ocfemia’s research is the latest CDC look at HIV drug resistance among newly-diagnosed individuals in the 11 U.S. areas.

"Our analysis finds that men who have sex with men (MSM) are more likely than other Americans to become newly infected with a drug-resistant strain of HIV," Ocfemia told EDGE. "In fact, 17.4 percent of newly diagnosed MSM were infected with a drug-resistant strain, compared with 15.5 percent of non-MSM. Our analysis also revealed that, among MSM by age, resistance was highest among those aged 13-29 (18.6 percent). We didn’t observe significant differences by race/ethnicity."

Since transmitted HIV drug resistance can limit treatment options, Ocfemia and her team must continue to monitor its impact.

In addition, their colleagues in the Division of Global HIV/AIDS presented data on the use of the Maxim Lag-Avidity EIA, an HIV-1 incidence assay used in determining program impact, with dried blood spot specimens.

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Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Living Well with HIV

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