Our coverage from the 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston continued yesterday with three interviews with Federal HIV leaders who shared perspectives about the science coming out of the conference and its implications for HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
NIH's Dr. Carl Dieffenbach Discussed Interim Results on a Study of a Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention & Studies about Heart Disease among PLWH
We conducted another Facebook Live interview with NIH's Dr. Carl Dieffenbach on Tuesday afternoon to learn about some of the key research findings presented at the conference. Dr. Dieffenbach, Director of the Division of AIDS at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), spoke with his colleague Anne Rancourt about new data presented today from two open-label extension studies of the Phase 3 trials of the dapivirine ring. Nearly 90% of participants in the NIH-supported HIV Open Label Extension (HOPE) study of a vaginal ring infused with a drug to prevent HIV are using the monthly ring at least some of the time, according to an interim analysis of study data. In addition, the rate of HIV infection among participants in the study, which has no placebo arm for comparison, is half of what might be expected in the absence of the ring, according to mathematical modeling that has significant limitations. In discussing this open-label extension study, Dr. Dieffenbach and Anne continued their conversation about understanding and interpreting different kinds of scientific research. Carl reminded us that, "There are huge parts of the world where women are most at risk for HIV, and particularly young women. So it's important to provide HIV prevention tools that fit into their lives, and the ring is a good step forward in that way." Read the NIAID news release about the results of the HOPE open-label extension study. Search the CROI webiste for the abstract and the recorded presentation.
Turning to another topic under discussion at CROI this week, Dr. Dieffenbach noted researcher interest in heart disease. It is a leading non-infectious comorbidity of HIV and was the topic of several presentations. He reminded us that people living with HIV are as much as twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease (CVD) than people who do not have HIV. He urged viewers living with HIV who are over 45 years of age to talk to their healthcare provider about getting a CVD workup. He also shared that NIAID is running the REPRIEVE trial, which is testing whether a daily dose of a statin reduces the risk of heart disease among people living with HIV who are at low to moderate CVD risk and are on antiretroviral therapy. The trial is still enrolling participants. Visit the REPRIEVE trial website for more information. (See our February Heart Health Month blog post for more information.)
HRSA's Dr. Laura Cheever Reflects on Moving Research into Clinical Practice & More
We also had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Laura Cheever who leads the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program as HRSA's Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau. She reflected on how conferences like CROI historically have helped disseminate new HIV research, how the Ryan White Program has and continues to train clinicians on implementing those advances in our understanding of the care and treatment of HIV, and what she saw as some promising innovations presented at this year's conference. She also discussed a symposium held the previous day at CROI about improving the HIV care cascade in the United States, observing that this is something that the Ryan White Programs works hard to address. In fact, the most recent data show that the viral suppression among clients has increased from 69% in 2010 to 85% today. We can't be sure, but Dr. Cheever may also have been taking some notes at CROI to inform the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment that will take place December 11-14, 2018.
CDC's Dr. Dawn Smith Discussed First-ever PrEP Data by Race and Ethnicity
In another Facebook Live interview, we learned about a new CDC analysis presented at CROI that found that only a small percentage of Americans who could benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill for HIV prevention, have been prescribed it. CDC's Dr. Dawn Smith, Biomedical Interventions Lead for the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, discussed this first detailed analysis by race and by risk group. CDC researchers found, she explained, that while two-thirds of people who could potentially benefit from PrEP are African-American or Latino, they account for the smallest percentage of prescriptions to date. She also highlighted some of the barriers to access to PrEP experienced by some people, and steps CDC is taking to support both healthcare providers and patients with information and tools to expand the awareness of and use of PrEP. Learn more about this study: view our interview above with Dr. Smith, view her CROI presentation, and read CDC's news release about the study.
The annual CROI conference has assembled over 4,000 HIV researchers in Boston this week, bringing together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from 76 countries to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases. Visit the conference website for abstracts, session descriptions [PDF, 15.9MB], webcasts, and other materials being released over the course of this week.
More CROI Updates Coming from HIV.gov
We'll be sharing an additional video interview from here at CROI with Dr. Dieffenbach as well as one with CDC's Dr. Jonathan Mermin on Wednesday, March 7, via our Facebook page. We will re-cap them here on the blog, too. Be sure to comment and share!