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"Transgender sexworkers are fighting every day to survive poverty, violence, homelessness, joblessness and bad access to healthcare. We face exclusion, discrimination and racism at all levels of society. We are highly affected by power structures that do not include us. We must work way harder to achieve a good quality of life and equal access to healthcare".

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The HEART study was presented during AIDS2018. This study looked at the association between HIV and heart failure. 

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In addition to a cure for HIV, there is also a lot of research being done at the moment on a vaccination against HIV. One example of this is the APPROACH study. This study looks at the safety, tolerance and effectiveness of various HIV vaccinations. The results of this study were presented during AIDS2018.

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For me, this International AIDS Conference started with the opening of the “AIDS in Amsterdam” exhibition in which Roel Coutinho and Dolly Bellefleur took us back in time. All the stigma surrounding HIV which we still grapple with today and in the future has its origins in this beginning period. It is almost unreal to anyone who did not witness this firsthand, but the scars remain among those like me who were there. I highly recommend this exhibition, in which the recurring theme of HIV that runs through our lives also unifies the whole exhibition.

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The RIVER study was presented during AIDS2018. This study looked at whether the HIV reservoir can be reduced by adding a vaccination to the current treatment. By reducing the HIV reservoir, HIV can possibly enter remission (then it remains in the body in an undetectable amount, but no longer reproduces, so it is no longer necessary to take HIV inhibitors). The results of the RIVER study were unfortunately disappointing.

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During AIDS2018, the results of the DRIVE FORWARD study were displayed on a poster. This study looked at the effectiveness and safety of the new non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) doravirine. Past studies have shown that this drug is effective against a virus that is resistant to other NNRTIs.

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Since recently, we have known that dual therapy (two active ingredients instead of three) can keep the viral load undetectable (read more here). But can monotherapy do the same? Researchers see dolutegravir as the best suited drug for monotherapy. It has a high genetic barrier (this means that the virus cannot easily become resistant to it), relatively few side effects and few interactions with other medicines.

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Dual therapy consists of two active ingredients instead of the usual three. One possible advantage of dual therapy is that it contains fewer active ingredients than triple therapy, so it may cause fewer side effects. Dual therapy may also be less expensive than triple therapy.

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And then it was all over... Last week, I wrote about how much energy it had given me to see all the attention for AIDS2018 throughout the city. Now, it’s all behind us. Time for one last blog post about this inspiring week.

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The integrase inhibitor dolutegravir has been in the news a lot recently. Dolutegravir is a very effective integrase inhibitor with relatively few side effects and it is contained in Tivicay, Juluca and Triumeq. At AIDS2018, lectures were given about the benefits and risks of dolutegravir.

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For me personally, the conference actually already started on Sunday, 22 July with the most “positive photo” on Dam Square, with many members of the Dutch HIV Community and Dr. Lydia Mugherera from Uganda in attendance. Immediately after that was the official opening of the deeply moving exhibition by Atlas2018 in the Beurs van Berlage.

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On the last morning of a Global Village that is already starting to empty out, I was in somewhat of a hurry when I walked past the stand of Francophone North African countries and suddenly I see her sitting there! Fatimata Ball, my sister and ally from Mauritania! I blogged about her two years ago from Durban when we were there with a Dutch delegation to prepare for the conference in Amsterdam.

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The 90-90-90 treatment targets have been set in the fight against HIV: for 90% of people living with HIV to know their status, for 90% of people who know their status to use antiretroviral therapy and for 90% of people who take medicines to have an undetectable viral load. Recently, more and more people are calling for a fourth “90” target, specifically one which says something about the perceived quality of life.

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The crowds at the Global Village seem to be finally thinning out a little. After the huge crowds on Monday, things have calmed down over the past few days. That’s also because the scientific conference started on Tuesday, and the delegates will be attending the sessions all day long. Fortunately, it’s also not nearly as noisy as it was on Monday when I came home with a splitting headache.

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Kerry Thomas is serving a thirty-year prison sentence in the United Stated. All because he did not disclose his HIV status during one sexual contact. For that reason alone, he was sentenced to thirty years. Unimaginable and incomprehensible.

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