Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U)

Treatment as Prevention

There is still no existing cure for HIV. With advances in HIV research, medications called ‘antiretrovirals’ keep the virus in check and can make the virus ‘undetectable’ in the blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partners. “Undetectable” viral load or “viral suppression” is defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.

The slogan “U=U” has been adapted by more than 60 organizations internationally to encourage HIV testing, adherence to treatment, and reduce stigma.

The website positiveseries.org published four videos detailing the journey of four persons living with HIV and the challenges they faced before becoming undetectable:

“U=U” was one of the central themes of the 4th Hawaii to Zero Conference held last January 10, 2019. The conference was organized by the Hawaii Center for AIDS and the Hawaii State Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch.

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html and http://positiveseries.org/

 

The 2019 Hawai’i to Zero HIV Conference

The 4th Hawaii to Zero HIV Prevention & Cure Conference was held at the Ala Moana Hotel in January 10, 2019. The Hawaii to Zero is an initiative of the Hawaii Center for AIDS with the vision of “Zero new HIV infections, zero deaths from HIV illness, and zero HIV-related stigma.”

The conference was organized by the Hawaii Center for AIDS and the Hawaii State Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch and was supported by funding from ViiV Healthcare, Hawai’i State Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and Gilead Sciences.

Opening message from Dr. Jerris Hedges, Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Sitting on the panel (from left to right): Dr. Cecilia Shikuma, Director of the Hawaii Center for AIDS; Michelle Wozniak, Public Health Educator at the Hawai’i State Department of Health; and Dr. Lishomwa Ndhlovu, Professor of Immunology at the Hawaii Center for AIDS.
Peter Whiticar, Chief of the Hawai’i State Department of Health Harm Reduction Services Branch, provided data on HIV incidence and viral load control in Hawaii.

The morning sessions focused on HIV prevention and ‘getting to zero’ in Hawai’i, while the afternoon sessions focused on HIV cure-related research. Investigational adjunct therapies, including latency reversal agents, negative checkpoint T cell blockade, and immunomodulatory therapies were presented.

Experts and community leaders discussing “undetectable = untransmittable” and how this impacts stigma reduction.
Leading scientists discuss HIV cure efforts. On the backdrop: Timothy Brown, ‘The Berlin Patient’, the first (and only) patient considered to have a sterilizing cure for HIV.

The meeting was attended by about 200 physicians, scientists, community leaders, and persons living with HIV. The 5th Hawaii to Zero conference is set to be held in January 2021.

Dr. Cecilia Shikuma receives the Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award

Dr. Cecilia Shikuma was named this year’s recipient of the Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award. The Harm Reduction Services Branch of the Hawai’i Department of Health confers the award annually to an individual in Hawaii “for outstanding contribution in providing HIV/AIDS services.” The award was conferred in December 1, 2018 at the Church of the Crossroads in Manoa as part of the World AIDS Day commemoration.

The award was established in memory of Suzanne Richmond-Crum, former Director of the Hawaii Seropositivity and Medical Management Program (HSPAMM). Suzanne passed away in 2004 after serving as Director of HSPAMM for more than a decade.

Dr. Shikuma has served as an HIV care provider, researcher, grant reviewer, mentor, and consultant for over thirty years. Her research works on the chronic complications of HIV and her efforts towards an AIDS-free Hawaii through the ‘Hawaii to Zero’ initiative is truly an inspiration.

Dr. Cecilia Shikuma, 2018 awardee of the Suzanne Richmond-Crum Award, with Dr. Dominic Chow, recipient of the award in 2013.

Expanding research collaborations with the Philippines

Dr. Cecilia Shikuma and Dr. Louie Mar Gangcuangco recently visited the Philippines in November 2018 as invited speakers of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

Dr. Shikuma’s plenary lecture at the 40th PSMID annual convention held last November 28, 2018 was entitled, “Clinical implications of HIV pathogenesis in treated and untreated populations.” Dr. Shikuma also met with Dr. Charlotte M. Chiong, Dean of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM), to discuss expanding research collaborations between the Hawaii Center for AIDS and UPCM.

Dr. Gangcuangco delivered a lecture on HIV pathogenesis and chronic complications of HIV at the MSU-IIT in November 29, 2018. The invitation was extended by Prof. Clowe Jondonero, Dean of the MSU-IIT College of Nursing. The lecture was attended by more than 200 nursing students, faculty members, and Dr. Franco Teves, Vice Chancellor for Research of MSU-IIT. Other guests include fellow Balik (returning) Scientists of the Department of Science and Technology, Prof. Arnie Alguno and Prof. Arnold Lubguban.

The Philippines is experiencing the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the western Pacific region, registering more than 1,000 new HIV cases per month. Research collaborations on HIV pathogenesis and prevention are warranted to help curb the epidemic.

World AIDS Day Proclamation

November 9, 2018. Governor David Ige signs a proclamation commemorating the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day . The event was held at the Hawai’i State Capitol and attended by community leaders, including representatives from the Department of Health, Hawai’i Health and Harm Reduction Center, and the Hawai’i Center for AIDS.

More pictures from the Gov. Ige’s official Flickr page:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/govhawaii/sets/72157700164453952

Brooks I. Mitchell is awarded the Ellen M. Koenig Foundation Award

Brooks Mitchell in the Department of Tropical Medicine at the john A. Burns School of Medicine was awarded a prestigious ARCS Award.

Education: BS Microbiology; MS Biomedical Sciences (Tropical Medicine)

Goal: Pursue an MD after completing his PhD. He wants to gain clinical knowledge that will better articulate the significance of bench research to clinical research as a physician scientist.

Interest: hiking, swimming, surfing, and free-diving.

While HIV isn’t the death sentence it once was, it appears to cause chronic inflammation and lymph node fibrosis that creates a higher risk of corollary illnesses. Brooks is studying the underlying immunological mechanisms which could lead to cell-targeted therapies that reduce lymphoid tissue fibrosis. He has received several achievement awards and travel scholarships related to his research. The ARCS Scholar Award will help defray living expenses, allowing him to focus on his research.

Find more information and multiple videos at both UH Med Now as well as Tropical Medicine News:

Hawaiʻi Center for AIDS scientist Brooks Mitchell earns Koenig Foundation Award in Medicine

2018 Ellen M. Koenig Foundation Awardee in Medicine: Brooks I. Mitchell, Tropical Medicine PhD Candidate

HICFA travels to Boston to present research at CROI 2018

Drs. Cecilia Shikuma, Dominic Chow, and Lishomwa Ndhlovu as well as Graduate Students attend and present at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) 2018 Conference in Boston, MA in the beginning of March 2018. They braved the cold and snowstroms to present our findings to an international audience.

 

Brooks Mitchell, a PhD student, presents at CROI 2018.

Dr. Dominic Chow, MD, MPH, presents at CROI 2018.

Dr. Louie Mar Gangcuangco, research coordinator for HICFA, at CROI 2018.

Friday Dec 1, 2017 – Please join us for Worldʻs AIDS Day in Honolulu

World AIDS Day 2017 will be observed on Friday, December 1st at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in downtown Honolulu.  The main ceremony begins at 6:30 PM with a program of music, hula, and the annual award given by the Department of Health for outstanding contributions in providing HIV/AIDS services in Hawaii. Drs. Cecilia Shikuma and Dominic Chow will present on “Living Healthy with HIV.”

For more information, please go to: https://worldaidsdayhawaii.org/oahu

WAD 2017 Flyer A

WAD 2017 Living Well