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What was the top HIV or Hep C research news story of 2014?

Wednesday, 07 January 2015 Written by // CATIE - HIV and Hep C Info Resource Categories // CATIE, Research, Features and Interviews, Health, CATIE - HIV and Hep C Info Resource

From CATIE: “From prevention methods to treatment options, new HIV and hepatitis C research made headlines in 2014. We’ve selected some highlights from the past year below, in no particular order.”

What was the top HIV or Hep C research news story of 2014?

This article first appeared on the CATIE website here 

Une version française est disponible ici.

Landmark analysis first to show that treatment dramatically reduces HIV risk for anal sex

The groundbreaking (and ongoing) PARTNER study is the first to explore the risk of HIV transmission when the viral load is undetectable in the blood and no condom is used. Previous studies had already demonstrated that this risk is reduced for vaginal sex, but PARTNER is the first to explore the risk of transmission through anal sex. In this study, no HIV transmissions occurred in over 44,000 condomless anal and vaginal sex acts when the HIV-positive partner had an undetectable viral load. While this doesn’t mean that the risk is zero (which is statistically impossible to prove), the study is continuing so that investigators can be more confident that the risk is “extremely low.”

Hepatitis C can now be cured in 12 weeks

2014 was a game-changer year for people living with hepatitis C. Researchers presented results from clinical trials on multiple new treatments, demonstrating cure rates from 85 to 99% and regimens as short as 12 weeks. Some of the new treatments are also free of interferon, a cause of significant side effects that was part of all previous Hep C treatments.

PrEP reduces HIV infections, does not increase risk-taking

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of anti-HIV medication by HIV-negative people to prevent infection, has already been proven safe and efficacious in clinical trials. In a new study published this year, researchers looked at whether PrEP would work in a “real world” setting. Overall, results confirmed that people would take the medication if offered the opportunity, risk-taking did not increase, and the number of new HIV infections was significantly reduced. However, adherence was an issue – a key factor in PrEP effectiveness.

HIV-negative gay and bisexual men are also at risk for hepatitis C

Most cases of sexually transmitted hepatitis C have taken place among HIV-positive men who have sex with men. In a review of health-related information from patients in London, England, researchers found that sexually transmitted hepatitis C infections are also occurring among HIV-negative men who have sex with men – suggesting that current screening practices might not be sufficient for identifying those at risk

Life expectancy of Canadians with HIV has increased dramatically

The life expectancy of HIV-positive people in Canada has increased over the past decade and is approaching that of HIV-negative people in similar circumstances, according to new research published in the past year. A young Canadian diagnosed with HIV today is expected to live on average to their early 70s. Early detection and continued engagement in care are crucial for maximum life expectancy.

Risk of HIV infection up to 71 times higher among some Canadians

For the first time, the Public Health Agency of Canada has estimated the rates of HIV incidence among Aboriginal peoples, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and people born in countries where HIV is endemic. Men who have sex with men are 71 times more likely to get HIV than other men. People who inject drugs are 46 times more likely to get HIV than people who do not. Aboriginal people are four times more likely to get HIV than non-Aboriginal Canadians, and Canadians born in countries where HIV is endemic are nine times more likely to get HIV than other Canadians. Although we have known for a long time that Canada’s HIV epidemic is concentrated in these key populations, new estimates of the size of each population have allowed us to understand how much harder HIV is hitting some communities. 

Did we miss something? Tell us your own choice for the top HIV or hepatitis C story of 2014.

Read more CATIE News stories from 2014.