After the first full day of sessions at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle yesterday, February 24, we caught up with Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, Director of the Division of AIDS at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), to get his take on some of the key highlights of the day.
Dr. Dieffenbach observed that HIV prevention was a key focus of the day and he pointed specifically to two of many studies presented on Tuesday. First, researchers presented findings from The PROMISE Study, a study of the use of triple antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding that demonstrated significant improvements in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. The PROMISE study reported findings through 14 days after birth for breast-feeding children. As the study continues, Dr. Dieffenbach noted that they will be watching to see if it is possible to continue the high level of protection for six months to a year– for the duration of breast-feeding which poses on ongoing risk of HIV transmission. (View the presentation by Dr. Mary Glenn Fowler of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.)
The second HIV prevention study Dr. Dieffenbach highlighted was the Partners Demonstration Project, which is being conducted among serodiscordant heterosexual couples in Kenya and Uganda. The ongoing study is evaluating the impact of providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a transitional strategy to protect the HIV-negative partner from infection, until their HIV-positive partner can achieve viral suppression through antretroviral treatment. The preliminary study results presented at CROI 2015 found that this strategy reduced the risk of HIV infection by 96 percent, achieving near elimination of HIV transmission. (View the presentation by Dr. Jared Baeten of the University of Washington.)
Tomorrow Dr. Dieffenbach will return to share brief highlights of the science presented on Wednesday, February 25.