IAVI REPORT – VOL. 14, NO. 6, 2010
As 2010 draws to a close, there is more progress to ponder.
Last year, the field was buoyed by the first trial of a vaccine candidate to show any efficacy in preventing HIV infection. And throughout this year, we chronicled many of the incremental research advances and plans for clinical trials of AIDS vaccine candidates. There was also a burst of good news for other HIV prevention strategies. In July, researchers reported that an antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicide candidate was 39% effective in preventing HIV infection in a cohort of South African women. Then, in November, the first efficacy trial of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with two antiretrovirals was shown to be 44% effective in protecting against HIV in a cohort of men and transgendered women who have sex with men (seeVaccine Briefs).
While none of these strategies present the perfect prevention option yet, they are important milestones in developing new ways to block HIV transmission, which are still sorely needed despite recent progress in reversing the spread of the virus. Just before World AIDS Day on December 1, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released its updated annual report on the state of the pandemic (see Vaccine Briefs). The latest statistics indicate that HIV incidence has declined by more than 25% over the last decade in 33 countries, 22 of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and that global incidence has dropped 19% from its estimated peak in 1999. This is a tremendous and laudable accomplishment, though UNAIDS warns that it’s too soon to declare the battle over.
One place where the battle against HIV/AIDS is still very much a work in progress is Washington, D.C. The US capital has the highest HIV prevalence in the nation, one that rivals many African nations.
In this issue we also report on the highlights from two recent scientific conferences, the 28th Annual Symposium on Nonhuman Primate Models for AIDS, and the Keystone Symposium on Immunological Mechanisms of Vaccination. And to prove that science and beauty can intermingle, we feature an interview with Luke Jerram, a color-blind installation artist who renders viruses, including HIV, in what he calls “glass microbiology.”
Best wishes for the New Year and here’s to having more to ponder in 2011!
—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor