IAVI REPORT – VOL. 14, NO. 3, 2010
In just a few weeks, more than 20,000 delegates are expected to gather in Vienna, Austria, for the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC), the behemoth biannual meeting sponsored by the International AIDS Society.
A decade ago, in Durban, South Africa, the IAC marked a sea change in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Following the meeting, there was a new emphasis on delivering life-saving antiretrovirals to millions of HIV-infected people in developing countries. Since then, significant progress has been made on this front.
In Vienna, universal access to HIV treatment will likely be one of the resounding themes. The world is far from meeting this goal—only about 30% of people in need are currently receiving antiretrovirals, and with many countries still gripped by the economic downturn, the prospects of increasing, or even maintaining, current HIV/AIDS funding levels, seem dim. In this issue, Regina McEnery asks Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), for his opinions on these issues (see An Interview with Michel Sidibé).
Other themes to emerge in Vienna will likely be the burgeoning HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, human rights issues related to injection drug use, and the ongoing efforts to develop new prevention strategies.
Vaccine research will likely not take center stage at the IAC, even though there is a flurry of research activity. Efforts to try to decipher the modest protection afforded by a prime-boost regimen in the RV144 trial, which provided the first evidence for protection against HIV by a vaccine candidate, are underway (see Meeting of the Minds on Mucosal Transmission). And plans for several follow-up trials intended to improve upon the RV144 results are also in development (see Researchers Unveil Plans for Follow-up Trials to RV144).
Meanwhile, Bette Korber, the well-respected steward of the Los Alamos National Laboratory HIV Sequence Database, who is profiled in this issue, is collaborating with other researchers to develop mosaic vaccine antigens designed to overcome the obstacle of HIV variation (see Tracking HIV Evolution). The first clinical trial of this mosaic vaccine approach is slated to begin soon.
We’ll be constructing our own mosaic, article not vaccine, out of highlights from the IAC, so stay tuned for the next issue.
—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor