With the novel coronavirus spreading across the globe, the organizers of this year’s annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) have been forced to make several last-minute announcements that may dramatically alter the tone and focus of one of the nation’s most prominent infectious-disease conferences.
The conference is slated to take place in Boston from March 8 to 11. But on Feb. 25—just 12 days before the start of the conference—organizers announced that full refunds would be given for any attendees who had been planning to travel from China and other countries hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Special accommodations will also be made for those who cannot be there in person to present their scientific posters.
As well, CROI organizers announced a last-minute session added to the program on Tuesday: an overview of COVID-19, including video presentations by Zunyou Wu, Ph.D., of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alongside a lecture by Ralph S. Baric, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina.
Outside of novel coronavirus, the conference remains primarily focused on HIV. Attendees will hear a late-breaking session on Tuesday evening about the results of the HVTN 702 vaccine trial, presented by Glenda E. Gray, M.B., B.Ch., of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, along with Lawrence Corey, M.D., and Steven Wakefield of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Throughout the conference, attendees are likely to hear updates on President Donald Trump’s pledge to end AIDS by 2030, which was a heavy focus of CROI 2019.
Sunday, March 8
On the first day of the conference, attendees will be greeted by a series of pre-conference workshops that focus on basic HIV science and clinical trials.
This year’s opening lectures include the Bernard Fields Lecture, titled, “The Ancient and Modern Origins of HIV,” by Michael Emerman, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and the N’Galy-Mann Lecture, “Translating HIV Science Into Population Impact: A Reality Check From the Frontline,” given by Alex Godwin Coutinho, M.B., Ch.B., M.P.H., of Partners in Health in Rwanda.
Monday, March 9
On Monday, CROI kicks off with plenary lectures on HIV Cure and Universal Test and Treat, given, respectively, by Sharon R. Lewin, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of the University of Melbourne in Australia, and Kevin M. De Cock, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That afternoon, a symposium will review novel cure interventions, including in-vivo models, immune-based latency reversal, gene therapies, and the entry inhibitor eCD4-Ig.
Tuesday, March 10
Tuesday’s plenary lectures include a talk on HIV prevention among people who inject drugs by Steffanie A. Strathdee, Ph.D., M.Sc., of the University of California San Diego, and a discussion of the sex differences in HIV by Eileen P. Scully, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University.
At lunch, attendees will tune in to an update on the COVID-19 virus from the Chinese CDC, as well as the United States CDC and NIH.
In the afternoon, the gears of the conference shift back to HIV for an update on the latest science around contraception and HIV, followed by another special, last-minute session—this one focused on the future of vaccine strategy in the wake of results from the HVTN 702 HIV vaccine trial, which will be presented by Glenda E. Gray, of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Wednesday, March 11
On Wednesday, the conference agenda reflects a mix of infectious-disease disciplines, from tuberculosis to hepatitis C.
In the afternoon, concurrent discussions will focus on important topics in HIV, such as the viral reservoir, the future of long-acting drugs, and HIV susceptibility in the female genital tract. The conference ends with a look at HIV antiretroviral therapy, including an overview of novel agents and the latest science on treatment adherence.
This is a small selection of some of our anticipated conference highlights, but stay tuned here for TheBodyPro’s coverage of late-breaking abstracts, curated symposia, and an update on the government’s plan to eradicate HIV by 2030 in the United States.