As the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) got underway today in Amsterdam, HIV.gov began our coverage of HIV research advances and other conference highlights with an interview of Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. Dr. Fauci is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.
We covered a variety of topics during our brief conversation:
- Having attended every one of the International AIDS Conferences since they began in 1985, Dr. Fauci remarked on the spirit at AIDS 2018 compared to earlier conferences.
- He offered his forecast of some of the new HIV research that likely will be in the spotlight at AIDS 2018 and beyond. These included the development of long-acting formulations of HIV treatment and prevention modalities, such as passive transfer of broadly neutralizing antibodies. He also noted that he's looking forward to information about the early HIV vaccine candidates now being developed, as well as epidemiology trends that are highlighting populations disproportionately impacted or who aren't making progress and need to be reached with new and innovative approaches with both prevention and treatment services.
- Dr. Fauci also shared brief highlights from his remarks at a pair of pre-conference sessions. One of these lectures focused on considerations for ending the HIV epidemic. He discussed the encouraging fact that we now have the tools needed to end the HIV epidemic, but the challenge of deploying them at the scale necessary to reach all those who need access remains. In his keynote address at the U=U pre-conference, Dr. Fauci reviewed the scientific evidence supporting the substantial prevention benefit of HIV treatment that results in a completely, durably suppressed viral load. Read more about Dr. Fauci's U=U lecture in this blog post.
- As one of the chief architects of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which is marking its 15th anniversary this year, Dr. Fauci reflected on what is "clearly the most transforming global health program in history for a single disease," having saved over 30 million lives. PEPFAR activities feature prominently across the conference's agenda.
- Finally, looking beyond the conference, Dr. Fauci discussed some of NIAID's HIV research priorities, including developing a safe and effective vaccine. He noted that even a vaccine that is just 50 to 60 percent effective "could put the nail in the coffin of HIV" when combined with existing HIV prevention modalities.
The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health issue in the world. First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, it continues to provide a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. According to its organizers, each conference is an opportunity to strengthen policies and programs that ensure an evidence-based response to the epidemic.
The theme of AIDS 2018 is "Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges," drawing attention to the need of rights-based approaches to more effectively reach key populations. AIDS 2018 aims to promote human rights based and evidence-informed HIV responses that are tailored to the needs of particularly vulnerable communities – including people living with HIV, displaced populations, men who have sex with men, people in prisons and other closed settings, people who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people, women and girls and young people – and collaborate in fighting the disease beyond country borders.
More Conversations from AIDS 2018 to Follow
As the week unfolds, we will bring you additional interviews with representatives of CDC's domestic and global HIV programs, HRSA's HIV/AIDS Bureau, USAID, and PEPFAR as well as daily HIV research highlights with NIH's Dr. Carl Dieffenbach. Review this post for the schedule and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for details.