—Specialists called for overcoming stigma that is blocking the HIV prevention message from reaching many of the people most at risk, especially gay and bisexual men.
Consider Malawi, where homosexuality is illegal and so AIDS prevention stresses heterosexual risk factors, said Johns Hopkins University researcher Andrea Wirtz. Her team managed to study 338 gay men in Malawi, and most said they'd never heard that HIV can be spread through anal sex and didn't know how to reduce their risk, she reported Friday.
__A bigger push for women-controlled preventions when their boyfriends or husbands won't use condoms. Activists asked the U.S. government to send more female condoms to hard-hit poor countries, and research is beginning in Africa on a vaginal ring soaked with a potentially HIV-blocking drug.
—More research to try curing HIV, or to at least put it into remission like cancer, although scientists cautioned that if that is possible, it probably will take 10 years.
—More research into a vaccine, following new clues about a rare kind of antibody that might be able to block HIV from infecting cells.
And the U.S., where patent laws mean HIV treatment costs much more than in poor countries, soon may get a price break. Today, a single daily pill that combines three medications is the first-choice treatment, and costs about $15,000 a year. A generic version of one of those medications, efavirenz, is expected soon.
But to take advantage of it, patients would have to switch to three pills a day, as a combination product won't be available. Harvard's Walensky said if everyone taking one pill a day made that switch, the U.S. health system would save $1 billion the first year — but she warned that people might not stick with three pills a day as well as they do with one.