HIV Research Highlights From First Day of CROI 2018

Advances in HIV research are being shared this week at the 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, and is here sharing news and information about some of the important new findings and data being released. We conducted a Facebook Live interview with Dr. Carl Dieffenbach on Monday afternoon to learn about some of the key research findings presented during the first full day of sessions. Dr. Dieffenbach is the Director of the Division of AIDS at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and he spoke with his colleague Anne Rancourt.

If you have trouble viewing the embedded Facebook live video, you can view it on Facebook.

Among the studies they discussed were:

  • Increased HIV acquisition risk in pregnancy -- A woman's risk of acquiring HIV through sex with a male partner living with HIV increases during pregnancy and is highest during the postpartum period. The study, funded in part by NIAID and presented by Renee Heffron, PhD, MPH, of the University of Washington, suggests that biological changes during and after pregnancy may increase a woman's HIV risk. The researchers found that the risk increased through pregnancy and peaked postpartum to a point when it was 4-fold higher than the risk seen in non-pregnant women. This is a "very significant boost in risk for women," remarked Dr. Dieffenbach. A new HIV infection during pregnancy or postpartum not only has negative consequences for the woman's health, but also carries the risk of perinatal HIV transmission to her fetus or to her newborn through breastfeeding. Better understanding HIV acquisition risk during and after pregnancy is critical to ensuring that women receive the best HIV prevention counseling and tools at all stages of their lives. Read the study abstract ; read NIAID's blog post about this research; view the presentation .
  • Short-course regimen for TB prevention -- A one-month antibiotic regimen to prevent active tuberculosis (TB) disease was at least as safe and effective as the standard nine-month therapy for people living with HIV, according to the results of a large international clinical trial. These findings could be a "game changer" for helping people stay TB-free, remarked Dr. Dieffenbach, noting that TB is the single biggest killer of HIV+ people around the globe. Adults and adolescents in the trial were more likely to complete the short-course regimen -- consisting of daily doses of the antibiotics rifapentine and isoniazid for four weeks -- than the standard nine-month regimen of daily isoniazid, according to the findings presented by Richard Chaisson, MD, of Johns Hopkins. The study was sponsored by NIAID and conducted by the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Read the study abstract ; read NIAID's news release about this research; view the presentation .

Finally, Dr. Dieffenbach also highlighted another NIH-supported study that may hold promise to inform ongoing efforts to find a cure for HIV. The study of broadly neutralizing antibody treatment found that this antibody, paired with another drug, had a profound impact on time to viral rebound and possibly the viral reservoir in monkeys infected with an HIV-like virus. Read the NIAID news release about this study.

[Note from TheBodyPRO: This article was originally published by on March 6, 2018. We have cross-posted it with their permission.]