Bishwaraj Adhikari/Pahichan – The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.
The AIDS 2016 programme will present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. A variety of session types – from abstract-driven presentations to symposia, bridging and plenary sessions – will meet the needs of various participants. Other related activities, including the Global Village, satellite symposia, the Exhibition and affiliated independent events, will contribute to an exceptional opportunity for professional development and networking.
The AIDS 2016 conference will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) from 18 to 22 July 2016.
Why this conference?
There are 36.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS and more than 95% of those living with HIV are in developing countries where access to effective health care is often challenging. In an age of unprecedented health innovation, these numbers are unacceptable. Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals encourages global partnerships and cooperation of governments, organizations, business and non-profits for sustainable development. When we convene at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) this July, we – the public and private sectors, community leaders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) alike – must join together to address this epidemic that continues to devastate communities.
In addition basically for late breaking science at an historic moment.The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) is only a few weeks away. Today, we are sharing a special message on the historic importance of our return to Durban after 16 years and some of the late breaking science that you can expect.
Late breaking scientific highlights
Here’s a glimpse of some new late breaking science that will be featured at AIDS 2016:
- New dapivirine ring study results on adherence associated with HIV-1 protection
- REALITY trial data on severely immunosuppressed HIV-infected adults and older children initiating ART
- Revealing results from the SAPPH-Ire randomized trial of a combination intervention studying antiretrovirals for HIV prevention and treatment among female sex workers
- The latest IMPAACT Promise study on acceptance of early ART among post-partum women
- Key learning on the uptake and safety of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among adolescent men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Leading approaches to antiviral regimens with tenofovir and lamivudine in HIV and hepatitis B (HBV) co-infected pregnant women
- Updates from the HVTN100 vaccine trial in HIV-uninfected South African adults
- Additional data from the ARIA study on the efficacy of fixed dose combination (FDC) in treatment-naïve women with HIV-1 infection
- Evaluation of the impact of universal test and treat on HIV incidence in rural South African populations
What did I learn?
To answer that question, I will provide a brief set of details for each of the sessions that I attended over the 4+ day conference. In addition, I will share the conference proceedings by several means including presentations to technical groups within Blue Diamond Society.
At last but not the least, i participated and learned the things as bellows:
Day Four AIDS 2016: Closing the Gap with a Royal Visit where i involved.
“Where are the men?” is a frequent refrain in HIV prevention, but on Thursday the AIDS 2016 symposia session, “Engaging Men in Care in HIV Treatment: Closing the Treatment and Survival Gap,” turned the spotlight to men’s participation in treatment. The data show that men living with HIV not only engage in treatment at lower levels than women…they also experience worse outcomes, including a 37% higher likelihood of death than women when on HIV treatment. Panelists at the session focused on strategies to overcome that startling gap, and to more successfully engage and retain men and boys in HIV testing and treatment – a key but often overlooked component of a stronger AIDS response.
Two men definitely not missing from AIDS 2016 on Thursday were Sir Elton John and Prince Harry. Both caused a stir when they strode the halls of the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), and with their words at the special session they headlined, along with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho and a panel of young people titled “Ending AIDS with the Voices of Youth.” At the session, Prince Harry praised activist organizations such as South Africa’s Treatment Action Group (TAC) and ACT UP, and the courage of countless individuals, including his mother, Princess Diana, for their work to overcome HIV stigma. Sir Elton John recalled the impact of young people such as Ryan White, and 11-year-old Nkosi Johnson, whose speech at AIDS 2000 helped jolt the world into a new approach to antiretroviral treatment (ART) access. “We need the confidence and courage of children to end AIDS,” Sir Elton John stated, eliciting cheers from the capacity crowd. But one of the loudest ovations of the afternoon came when young panelistLoyce Maturu of Zimbabwe reminded the audience that “love has the power to change everything,” and challenged us all to “stop thinking of young people as beneficiaries, and start seeing us as partners in the effort to end AIDS by 2030.”
Biomedical HIV prevention is definitely experiencing a golden age. At the AIDS 2016 symposia session, “The Future of Chemoprophylaxis: New Concepts,” leading PrEP and microbicide researchers including Salim Abdool Karim, Nelly Mugo, Connie Celum, Ian McGowan, and others reviewed the rapid pace of development in oral Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), and explored prevention approaches on the horizon such as injectable PrEP, vaginal rings, and rectal and vaginal microbicides. The behavioural and implementation science issues of prevention roll-out and adherence were also prominent on the symposia agenda. As one conference goer noted, “if you can’t get it, you won’t use it, and if you don’t use it, it won’t work!”
The session “Treat Early and Stay Suppressed” looked at the data behind the World Health Organization’s (WHO) groundbreaking recommendation to provide ART to all people living with HIV (PLHIV) regardless of CD4 count, and the real-life experience of countries working to make that recommendation a reality. Data from South Africa showed immediate ART eligibility to be associated with lower mortality, improved immune function, and reduced household HIV incidence. The PROMISE study indicated the continuing ART for postpartum women is safe and associated with fewer WHO Stage 2/3 events vs. stopping ART. However, among women not on ART, there was low initial acceptance of early ART after initial counseling. For more details on this and the other sessions from the Thursday programme.
British musician Elton John on Wednesday committed money for protecting LGBT people in Africa, saying that leaving them behind in the fight against AIDS will only increase the spread of the disease. The rock star spoke at a global AIDS conference in South Africa that has also attracted philanthropist Bill Gates, actress Charlize Theron and Britain’s Prince Harry.
Key populations including sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users are still marginalized and suffer the “internal nightmare of shame and stigma” despite the strides that have been made in the response to the AIDS epidemic. This was the message delivered by Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron when he delivered the Jonathan Mann Lecture at the International AIDS Conference on Tuesday.
There’s a teen boom in HIV, attendees at the AIDS 2016 annual meeting in Durban, South Africa, have heard this week. Many of these teens caught the infection from their mothers while they were in the womb, and are now coming of age. Unless action is taken now, the surge in adolescents carrying the infection means the epidemic could spiral out of control again.
Finally, nearly 800 media representatives from around the world have been attending and reporting on AIDS 2016 throughout this busy conference week. In addition to showcasing the latest HIV research developments, and providing invaluable opportunities for collaboration, networking and information exchange, the biennial International AIDS Conference also helps keep the global media spotlight trained on HIV. Ensuring that the media dialog on AIDS is constructive and accurate was the focus of the Leadership Workshop, “Responsible Reporting versus Sensationalizing HIV and AIDS in the Media,” which challenged journalists, activists, and scientists to collaborate in ways that “go beyond the headlines” to promote human rights and achieve global health targets.