Next week, thousands of clinicians and scientists will make their way to Seattle for the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), to be held March 4-7, 2019. As one of the largest HIV conferences, CROI brings together scientists, researchers, and advocates -- all working toward the common goal of HIV elimination.
CROI is highly regarded for its robust scientific presentations. However, this year, the plan for CROI's opening session took an abrupt political turn after President Donald Trump's unexpected pledge in his Feb. 5 State of the Union address to end the U.S. HIV epidemic by 2030.
Elaine Abrams, M.D., professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center, said she was "surprised" by the president's announcement that the government would redouble its efforts to eradicate HIV in the United States.
After the State of the Union address, CROI's scientific programming committee -- of which Abrams is co-chair -- invited Anthony Fauci, M.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health, to give a special opening session about the government's HIV eradication plan.
"We're anticipating that Dr. Fauci will put some color to that story and give us a sense of what [the White House is] thinking," Abrams said. "It's the perfect venue. There will be 4,000 people in the room who [have] been working in this area, many of them for quite a long time."
Outside of Fauci's somewhat impromptu appearance, CROI programming will feature important incremental advances in HIV treatment and prevention science.