Tracking AIDS in 2016: a year in the epidemic

February 14, 2017

by Cotrell Loftin

2016 was quite the year for HIV and AIDS. Last year, reducing stigma, broadening HIV prevention, and breakthroughs in treatment were all the rage. From research to advocacy to innovation — and even some forays into pop culture — the epidemic was front and center. Cheers to an even more newsworthy 2017 for HIV and AIDS! Here's a roundup of 10 interesting HIV stories from 2016:

  1. Zero transmissions in San Francisco PrEP Program (POZ)
    Data from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Truvada for PrEP program revealed that none of the approximately 939 men in the study contracted HIV. This is even true for men who reported having condomless sex during that same period. This further indicates that PrEP is an effective tool for safer sex!
  2. PrEP fails in gay man adhering to daily Truvada
    On the flip side, news emerged of transmission of a drug-resistant form of HIV to two PrEP users. For doctors and researchers, the takeaway is clear: no treatment is 100% effective, but with strict adherence, PrEP is over 99% effective in protecting oneself from HIV. This was one transmission among an estimated 100,000 people currently taking PrEP in the U.S., according to JD Davids of The Body.
  3. Prince Harry and Rihanna get HIV test in Barbados to raise awareness
    Prince Harry and Rihanna paired up and filmed themselves getting tested for HIV in Barbados in honor of World AIDS Day. These beautiful people showed that getting tested can be a beautiful thing!
  4. Why it’s time to bury the word “AIDS
    What’s in a name? Writer George Johnson urges us to reconsider the use of the term “AIDS” and draw clearer distinctions between today’s HIV diagnosis and the AIDS epidemic of the 80s and 90s that took so many lives in the U.S.
  5. Young Gay Men at Frontline of AIDS Prevention in China
    The primary population for HIV prevention efforts in China is young men. With the LGTBQ community highly discriminated against and frowned upon, these young men avoid recommended testing regimens and treatments. But efforts to reduce stigma surrounding HIV can greatly reduce the number of new infections and encourage these men to seek out treatment and other resources.
  6. HIV and AIDS in South Africa: How far have we come?
    This Daily Vox article takes a look at the milestones and accomplishments of AIDS treatment and research in South Africa. South Africa has seen promising decreases in the number of new HIV infections in recent years, as well as increases in prevention efforts through tools like PrEP.
  7. Patient Zero
    It turns out, there is no “Patient Zero.” It was once believed that Gaétan Dugas, a French-Canadian flight attendant, was the person who introduced HIV to the U.S., but it seems the strain Dugas had was here long before he was. The problem with labeling anyone "Patient Zero" is the stigma and hatred aimed at that person, which is counterproductive in encouraging people to seek treatment.
  8. Harry Potter werewolf condition a metaphor for HIV
    A bit controversial in the context of the story — people living with HIV are far from monsters! — but J.K. Rowling opens up about a clever way she addressed a pressing issue in her fictional work.
  9. Man convicted of intentionally infecting his girlfriend with HIV given second trial
    Criminalizing HIV is wrong — and for someone who unintentionally infects another person, the burden likely feels double in weight. We applaud the High Court of Australia for giving this man a more fair trial and prosecution.
  10. Researchers edit HIV out of infected cells
    Researchers conducted a study using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to remove HIV from cells, slowing replication and reducing viral load. This is by no means a cure, but it is a promising breakthrough in research and treatment.

May 2017 yield more headlines heralding the end of HIV stigma and increased support for people living with HIV!

Categorized under Inside Story, International and National.

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