This is a re-post from conference_news@aids2016 as sent to all Conference delegates
Day Three of AIDS 2016: Achieving Targets and Accountability
The theme of accountability for achieving AIDS reduction targets resonated throughout AIDS2016 on Wednesday. At the plenary session, “What is our Goal?,” Anton Pozniak challenged the audience to step up the global response to TB and hepatitis C, two major killers of people living with HIV (PLWHIV), through a greater focus on testing, early treatment, and the use of generic therapies to treat the two diseases. Presenting on the soon-to-start HVTN 702 vaccine study in South Africa, Larry Corey reported that vaccines are now back on the main stage, and reminded attendees that “getting to an AIDS-free generation will require a vaccine.”
Also at the Wednesday plenary, IAS President-Elect Linda-Gail Bekker presented the 2016 IAS CIPHER research awards to seven outstanding investigators in paediatric HIV. This CIPHER grant round is the largest in the initiative’s history, providing US$1.2 million for cutting edge research to improve the lives of infants, children, and adolescents affected by HIV. Also announced on Wednesday were the winners of the IAS Abstract Prizes, selected from among the most competitive pool of research abstracts in AIDS conference history.
Michel Kazatchkine, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy on HIV and AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is passionate about the impact of HIV on people who inject drugs (PWID), and so were his fellow panelists in a Wednesday symposia session that addressed the failure to reach the UN target of cutting HIV transmission among PWIDs in half by 2015. Participants not only addressed the toll of unsafe drug injection in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, the growing concern about unsafe injection in Africa, and the punitive policies and lack of services that led to the missed target – they also offered clear policy alternatives to turn back the burgeoning epidemic of HIV caused by unsafe injection.
Interim results presented on Wednesday from the SEARCH study, conducted in rural Kenya and Uganda, showed a significant advance toward achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. The community-based approach to HIV testing, combined with a ‘test and treat’ model of antiretroviral treatment (ART) access, increased the proportion of adults in these communities who were virally suppressed from 45% to 81% over two years.
High uptake and self-report of adherence to oral PrEP by African-Americans was the focus of HPTN 073 results, also presented Wednesday. In the US, HIV diagnoses of African-American gay and bisexual men increased by 87% from 2005-2014. And in a special session, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Chairman Bill Gates offered his perspective on the HIV treatment revolution and the need for creative new thinking in prevention. For those who believe we can ease the global AIDS response, Gates offered a simple lesson in demographics: “The largest generation in history,” he noted, “is entering an age when they are most at risk of HIV.”
Extraordinary microscopy imagery was used to illustrate how HIV travels through the body in the earliest days of infection in the session, “Acute HIV Infection: The Battle Begins.” Researchers are increasingly focused on understanding these first moments of infection, with the hope that new insights into how the virus establishes its foothold will guide the development of vaccines and other strategies to prevent it. For a review of this and dozens of other sessions on the conference program Wednesday, and every day of the meeting, visit the conference Rapporteur Summaries.
Finally, more than one conference-goer was star-struck on Wednesday when Sir Elton John joined the crowd at AIDS 2016. The Rocket Man, and Elton John AIDS Foundation Chair David Furnish, joined Ambassador Deborah Birx of United States President’s Emergency Plan forAIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to announce that the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) Global Forum would receive the first two grants from a joint US$10 million fund to increase the capacity of local community-based organizations to provide high-quality HIV services for LGBT people. Birx moved the packed press conference with her remembrance of the young men who took to the streets in the early 1980’s to demand the original AIDS response, while Sir Elton John reminded all that without inclusion and respect for human rights, no amount of scientific progress can end AIDS.
HIV & AIDS Support House Inc.