HIV/AIDS conferences are compelling events: They are the often-unheralded catalysts for change in one of the global health community's most rapidly evolving fields. They are about taking the best, brightest and most committed frontline HIV care providers, researchers and advocates, and bringing them together to share data, wisdom, ideas and inspiration. In so doing, they constantly move the fight against HIV forward and bring us closer to eliminating HIV once and for all.
In this special series on TheBodyPRO.com, you'll take a look back at some of the presented research that made 2012's HIV/AIDS conferences so special. You'll also read a selection of personal perspectives from conference attendees reflecting on their most memorable conference experiences of the year.
We take you on a guided tour through important conference presentations in several of HIV's key subfields: cure research, vaccine development, HIV prevention, HIV treatment strategy, antiretrovirals in development, access to HIV care and comorbidities/complications. Each of these highlighted presentations has the potential to change our understanding of, or our approach to, HIV science and clinical practice.
What new HIV antiretrovirals do we have to look forward to over the next few years? How will these newer drugs improve upon those that came before? To shed some light on these questions, Roy Gulick, M.D., recently provided an overview of some of our star HIV drugs in development that have been highlighted in conference presentations throughout the year.
Every year, new research gives us a deeper understanding of what it will take to achieve greater successes in HIV prevention, treatment, patient care and the search for a cure. While most of the legwork gets overlooked, HIV conferences allow researchers to present their study results to a broader audience -- and to attract the attention of sites like TheBodyPRO.com and its readers.
Matthew Rose is an HIV advocate and a strong voice for young, black gay men in the U.S. As the policy chair for the Young Black Gay Men's Leadership Initiative at AVAC (AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition), he knows all too well how important finding an HIV vaccine is. He himself is currently enrolled in an HIV vaccine trial. In this interview from AIDS Vaccine 2012, Matthew sheds some light on how he got involved and what it's like to participate.
Excuse Me, Is This Seat Taken?
"International HIV/AIDS meetings can be overwhelming, and this summer's Washington-based venue was no exception. ... I sought refuge in the humble food court. ... Despite my grumbling, this ultimately provided a unique opportunity to briefly interact with other citizens of the world engaged in the challenge of HIV, resulting in some of my most memorable moments of the conference."
Pivoting to End the Epidemic: Can We Do It?
"I wondered about the magnitude of the financial and human resource investments we have committed to conferences like IAS and whether or not these resources should instead be utilized to implement structural interventions that present barriers to prevention, testing, treatment and engagement in care."
The Social and Economic Determinants of HIV/AIDS: Time for Action
"As an HIV professional, I often wonder: How can we take seriously the challenge of effecting the social and economic change necessary to alter the course of the HIV epidemic? ... [T]he conditions which drive the HIV epidemic -– unequal access to income, education, health care, food and sanitation –- will continue to be reproduced within our societies."
One of the Most Disempowering Moments of My Life
"As I ran from presentation to presentation, looking for answers to questions about my research topic and possible funding initiatives and opportunities, I realized that HIV/AIDS had become a product. ... I realized that the research being discussed in the halls of the 2012 AIDS Conference would never reach the people downstairs, because that is not what it was meant to do."
Speaking Truth to Power
"The press conference moved me because of its power to raise awareness -- and, in raising awareness, to lift a heaviness that has prevented women living with HIV, providers and policymakers alike from engaging in dialogue around this issue. Violence and trauma are silenced epidemics -- even more silenced, in its nuances and impact, than the epidemic of HIV among women."
The War Room
"When my husband Martyn and I arrived at the War Room, Dave Purdy met us at the door. He told us, with tears in his eyes, the news of two more people who may have been cured of HIV. ... The hope I felt stared back at me in Dave's eyes. He was a veteran activist on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis. He had lived through the worst of it. For us, this news meant that maybe, just maybe, this could be the beginning of the end."