AIDS 2014 to Focus on Scaling Up What Works
The 20th International AIDS Conference Will Look at the Role of Science, Funding and Policies for "Stepping Up the Pace" of Fight Against HIV
July 16, 2014
Human rights, implementation science and prevention advances are among the hot topics and priority issues at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) kicking off in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend, according to top HIV leaders on a journalists' web briefing sponsored by Kaiser Family Foundation.
Jen Kates, Ph.D., Kaiser Family Foundation's vice president and director of global health and HIV policy, explained that the conference theme of "Stepping Up the Pace" refers to an emphasis on taking to scale what is known to work.
Thus, key areas of discussion will be the factors that can facilitate or inhibit going to scale: access or denial of human rights, including the rise of anti-LGBT discrimination laws in different countries, as well as advances or setbacks in science and funding.
According to Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the conference will feature an "extraordinary amount of science on many topics," including advances in hepatitis C, the use of antiretroviral therapy as prevention, and vaccine and cure research he will feature in his own plenary address, "The Future of Science in the HIV Response."
"It's important to continue the discovery phase of cure research in our enthusiasm to prolonged viral remission that hopefully translates to cure. Don't forget we are in the early phase of cure research," he cautioned, "which we learned with sobering effect [when] the baby known as the Mississippi baby had unfortunate rebound of viremia after 27 months off treatment, with no detectable virus at 48 months of age."
But Dr. Fauci stressed that new scientific knowledge will complement the substantive progress that has created a blueprint for how to bring the epidemic under control.
"In this point in time, even without vaccine and cure, we have the tools with combination prevention and modalities, as well as the power of treatment as prevention," he explained. "If we are aggressive, we can, without hyperbole, sharply deflect the curve of the HIV incline to the point where, as with all pandemics in decline, we are propagating toward control. It's frustrating that when you have the tools in your hand and know you should implement them, that you don't implement them."
Indeed, an entire track of the conference will feature implementation science, also known as operational science, looking at service delivery and addressing gaps and barriers across the continuum of prevention and care.
Chris Beyrer, M.D., M.P.H., president-elect of the International AIDS Society, said that the conference would focus on the challenges faced by stigmatized and criminalized populations, including sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men (MSM), promising that it would "reinvigorate parts of epidemic that need emphasis, and push back what's blocking full extension of treatment and care to communities that need it the most."
"Australia is the right place for that message," he noted, saying that the host country "has a proud tradition of responding to HIV in these populations with early harm reduction. It's seen as a main success story in its pragmatic approach."
Beyrer, lead author of "Pushback: The Current Wave of Anti-Homosexuality Laws and Impacts on Health," encouraged endorsement of the "Melbourne Declaration," which calls for "immediate and unified opposition to ... discriminatory and stigmatizing practices," such as HIV criminalization and restrictions on funding for syringe exchange programs.
New prevention strategies and the implementation of existing prevention strategies will also be a focus, including findings from the open label extension of the iPrex study of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), he added.
Julie "JD" Davids is the managing editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow JD on Twitter: @JDAtTheBody.
Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
This article was provided by TheBodyPRO. It is a part of the publication The 20th International AIDS Conference.
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