Researchers speaking in the first plenary session of the 5th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2009) offered insights into current and future HIV prevention research and examined genetics and HIV-related inflammation as avenues for new treatments.
The presentations, which also included data on the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for prevention and an update on strategies to reduce maternal transmission of HIV, reflect the breadth of expertise among the more than 5,000 researchers, clinicians and community leaders attending the conference, which runs from 19-22 July in Cape Town.
HAART as prevention
In his plenary remarks, Dr. Reuben Granich, Medical Officer for HIV/TB in the HIV/AIDS Department of the World Health Organisation (WHO), examined the significant promise of the use of HAART as part of a combined approach to HIV prevention that includes behavioral, structural and biomedical prevention interventions.
HIV and host genetics
Dr. Amalio Telenti, Professor of Medical Virology and Director of the Institute of Microbiology at the University Hospital Center of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland discussed the relatively new field of HIV and host genetics, examining the role of host genetics in susceptibility to HIV-1 disease, plasma drug levels and treatment toxicity. Dr. Telenti concluded by outlining the need for greater knowledge about the role of rare human genetic variation on susceptibility to infection and disease, and the translation of knowledge about host genetics into clinical tools.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission
Dr. Louise Kuhn called for a mobilisation of political will to implement the latest knowledge on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), highlighting data on breakthroughs in PMTCT strategies during breastfeeding, including lactation support and counseling, continuation of maternal HAART after delivery, and extended infant prophylaxis with nevirapine. According to Dr. Kuhn, the urgency of implementing these interventions is underscored by accumulating data on negative impacts of avoiding or shortening the duration of breastfeeding. Dr. Kuhn is Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and the Mailman School of Public Health.
Inflammation and HIV: A new paradigm
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr highlighted the unappreciated role of inflammation as an important cause of morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV. Inflammation has been noted to cause organ damage in people living with HIV, and biomarkers, particularly inflammatory markers, are associated with HIV disease progression, cardiac disease and mortality. Dr. El-Sadr reviewed the prominence that non-AIDS complications, including non-AIDS cancers and cardiac, renal, liver complications, have gained as a cause of morbidity and mortality as effective ART has dramatically decreased HIV-related morbidity and mortality. Dr. El Sadr is Director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, as well as Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harlem Hospital Center in New York City.
Rome to host the next conference in 2011
The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced the selection of Rome, Italy as host of the world’s largest open scientific conference on HIV/AIDS — the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) — to be held from 17 – 20 July 2011 at the Auditorium Parco della Musica. The event will be organised by the IAS, in partnership with Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italian National Institute of Health), which is the leading technical and scientific body of the Italian National Health Service.
Source: The Daily Star, July 25, 2009