A December Reading List

December 3, 2015

It’s the holiday season and in many parts of the world that means lists: of gifts, things to be thankful for, things that are needed and, sometimes, things to read. This week, which began with World AIDS Day, brought more reading material than we can possibly plow through between now and New Year’s Eve. So, in the holiday spirit, here’s a guide to some of the highlights from the new releases and who in your life might enjoy them most.

For the Walk-the-Talk Activist: As described in this post from AVAC’s P-values blog, this week’s International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Zimbabwe has brought bold advocacy and activism from women’s groups, sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, trans-diverse people, women living with HIV and many other groups. Unfortunately, there have also been rights violations and harassment of people, including many individuals from “key populations”. Our blog provides first-hand accounts and info on how UNAIDS responded.

For Anyone with a “Wonder Woman” in their Lives: An AVAC blog on the new Innovation Challenge for the DREAMS Initiative, a program aimed at adolescent girls and young women. The Innovation Fund is designed to infuse additional money into bold programs—and bring in new private-sector partners.

For the Implementation Advocate (who can live without photo captions): The new World Health Organization policy brief on what’s new in the second edition of the Consolidated Guidelines on the Use of Antiretrovirals (ARVs). If you feel like you’ve missed the second edition (the first, issued in 2013, can be found here), fear not. The full guideline still isn’t out—WHO has said to watch for it in 2016. But this policy brief gives important highlights and expands on the early release guideline on PrEP and when to start ART, which came out in September.

The newest document highlights what’s truly new. In the ART section, WHO, for the first time, advances a “differentiated care” approach that sees people living with HIV in categories other than CD4 cell count, and pregnant or not. The document begins to map what it would take to deliver services in a world where people who are unstable on ART receive one type of intervention, those who are healthy and newly diagnosed, and so on. It won’t be easy—but it wouldn’t be possible without this type of detail.

If you’re looking for captioned photos, this is a document to avoid: pictures of people apparently from low- and middle-income countries abound, but with no identifiers, and it’s hard to tell when, where or why the pictures were taken. In a document that recommends looking closely at each individual and his or her reality, the illustrations would be a great place to start.

For the Two-Briefs-Are-Always-Better-Than-One Advocate and the PrEP-Curious Reader: A two-page policy brief on PrEP from WHO that’s short and to-the-point. This is a great handout to show to people who want just the facts on why WHO now states “#offerprep” as a strong recommendation.

For the Number Cruncher (who likes photo captions): Volume Four of the One Campaign’s “Unfinished Business” report on global financing for HIV manages to be both clear, simple and comprehensive about who is spending what—at the country level and in the private sector. It also features country-specific pages and recommendations, trend analyses and clear advocacy “asks” for the Global Fund, African countries—and more. Fans of captions will be happy to see that every picture has an explanation of who is shown, where they are from and what they do.

For the Unsatisfied Realist: Treatment on Demand for All, a policy analysis paper by Health GAP and partners that maps the gaps between policy and reality when it comes to ART access worldwide. Noting that fewer than 1 out of 10 people living with HIV worldwide live in a country where immediate ART (as recommended by the WHO) is current policy, the report describes the state of, and remedies for, this great global divide.

For the Precision-Minded PrEPster: The full New England Journal of Medicine article presenting the findings from the IPERGAY trial that evaluated “on-demand” PrEP in gay men in France and Canada. Steer clear of the press release and subsequent media which suggests that the study found evidence that coitally-related dosing is effective and head straight for the discussion section which clearly states that the only conclusion IPERGAY can draw is that four pills per week provides high levels of protection in this study population.

Evaluation of the levels of drug needed to provide protection in the context of anal sex back up this conclusion—which, for now, is clear evidence that a daily PrEP regimen can be forgiving of a few missed doses for gay men and transwomen. Now is not the time to shift from the message that a pill a day provides protection. For more on PrEP’s pipeline and interpretation of the IPERGAY results, check out the two articles in POZ magazine.

Pour les Francais et leurs Amis: For the French and those who love them, lift a glass for resilience in the face of terror and another for the announcement from French Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine that will bring government-subsidized PrEP to those who need and want it.

For the Speed Readers: Ending the HIV-AIDS Pandemic—Follow the Science, an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. In it, Anthony Fauci and Hilary Marston of the US NIH need just over 1,000 words to summarize the science that has defined progress in the epidemic.

Happy reading—and let us know what’s on your list!