As the 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual) drew to a close yesterday, HIV.gov shared a final interview with Carl Dieffenbach, Ph.D., director of the Division of AIDS at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), about more of the week’s important HIV research developments. Among the topics he discussed were:
- An important milestone in an HIV vaccine study and an update on where things stand in that arena,
- A new partnership to expedite development of globally accessible and affordable HIV antibody combination products,
- NIH’s engagement in the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, and
- A look to what’s on the horizon in HIV research in the year ahead.
View our conversation below:
Here is additional information on the topics Dr. Dieffenbach highlighted:
- Imbokodo vaccine trial reaches important milestone. Dr. Dieffenbach reported that this week the ongoing HIV vaccine efficacy study known as Imbokodo, or HVTN 705/HPX2008, reached a key milestone: all the experimental vaccines have been administered to the trial participants. Launched in 2017, the study is evaluating whether an experimental vaccine regimen is safe and able to prevent HIV among more than 2,600 HIV-negative women between the ages of 18 to 35 years from five countries in sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia. Women and girls in these countries are disproportionately affected by HIV in comparison to men of the same age group. Read more about Imbokodo. Dr. Dieffenbach also briefly discussed the other late-stage, NIH-supported HIV vaccine trial underway: the Mosaico trial among men who have sex with men and transgender people in the Americas and Europe.
- New NIH partnership announced around HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies. Dr. Dieffenbach noted that a new public-private partnership between NIH, IAVI, and other collaborators was announced at the conference yesterday, focused on development of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), a type of antibody that can block many types of HIV from entering healthy cells in the laboratory. Clinical studies evaluating bNAbs for HIV prevention and treatment are currently underway. Under the new partnership, the collaborators will pool their bNAb assets and expertise to expedite development of an accessible and affordable combination product specifically designed to be produced at scale, should bNAbs be shown to be efficacious for HIV prevention, and possibly for treatment.
- NIH’s role in the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. Observing that Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America had been discussed during several AIDS 2020 sessions, Dr. Dieffenbach described NIH’s role in supporting the 10-year initiative to reduce new HIV transmissions by 90% by 2030. He highlighted NIH’s initial $11 million investment in implementation science research conducted by the NIH-supported Centers for AIDS Research and AIDS Research Centers in coordination with local partners in many of the 57 jurisdictions prioritized in phase 1 of the initiative. He also announced that NIH is continuing their support of that implementation science research for a second year. Some of the projects funded in the first year will be extended and expanded, and there will be some new areas of emphasis. One of those, he explained, is exploring how can we improve communication about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to increase uptake among cisgender women.
- HIV research in the coming year. Dr. Dieffenbach remarked that in the next year, he hopes to see findings from HPTN 084, the NIH-sponsored study of long-acting injectable cabotegravir among cisgender women. This is the companion study to HPTN 083, one of the studies he discussed earlier this week, which found that long-acting injectable cabotegravir is even more effective in preventing HIV than daily oral Truvada among cisgender men who have sex with men and transgender women who have sex with men. Another area of activity he is looking ahead to in the coming year is new research on gene-based cures for both sickle cell disease and HIV being performed as part of a new collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Follow HIV.gov for continued coverage of advances in HIV research.
AIDS 2020: Virtual
The 23rd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2020: Virtual) took place from July 6-10 and was the first-ever online edition of the world’s largest conference on HIV. The biennial meeting is organized by the International AIDS Society and brings together scientists, policy makers, healthcare professionals, people living with HIV, funders, media, and community.