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19th International AIDS Conference

You can find my recent package of stories about the AIDS 2012 conference on the new VAX website,www.vaxreport.org. The main story is about the evolution in HIV combination prevention strategies, while a second story deals with vaccine and microbicide updates from the IAS meeting.

Just before this year’s International AIDS Conference (IAC) kicked off on July 22 in Washington DC, scientists met here on July 20 and 21 for a symposium called “Towards an HIV Cure” to discuss recent advances in HIV cure research, previewing many related research announcements that were later also discussed at the main conference. (The talks were under embargo until discussed at the main conference, which is why I am only posting this now.) 

It almost felt like the summer drought had sapped the vaccine agenda at the 19th International AIDS Conference, so hard was it to find sessions devoted to the subject. But sparse as the selection was, Duke University scientist Barton Haynes offered a bit of an oasis with his overview today of the status of vaccine research and, particularly, two promising paths forward for the field.

Cure research hasn’t exactly been a hot topic at previous iterations of the International AIDS Conference (IAC). Things are different this time.

Funds for HIV prevention research and development remained essentially flat in 2011, dropping just 2%, or US$30 million, to $1.2 billion for the year, according to the HIV Vaccine and Microbicide Resource Tracking Working Group. As the Working Group noted, however, investments could have been much worse given the persistence of the global economic downturn.