IAVI REPORT – VOL. 20, NO. 3, 2016
In many parts of the world, this season was marked by turbulent events. Whether it be the unprecedented migration crisis, terrorism, the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, catastrophic weather, or emerging pathogens like Zika, there are many priorities these days competing for the attention of governments and international funding agencies. It is within this competitive and resource-constrained environment that AIDS 2016 took place, returning to Durban, South Africa, 16 years after the HIV/AIDS community first gathered in the coastal city.
To be sure, the progress in providing millions of HIV-infected people with life-saving antiretroviral treatment was oft discussed at AIDS 2016. But advocates, public health experts, and government officials are far from resting on their laurels. In fact, experts at AIDS 2016 warned that the hard-won gains against HIV/AIDS are in peril of being lost if financial support isn’t maintained and improved HIV prevention efforts aren’t implemented. A dozen or more speakers who addressed the conference’s more than 15,000 delegates cited a vaccine as a crucial component to achieving the United Nation’s goal of ending AIDS. In this issue, we provide our complete coverage of AIDS 2016.
We also look at how the European Union is hoping to stimulate HIV vaccine research efforts across its partner countries with two grants backed by a €45 million investment, and provide an update on the imminent HVTN 702 trial, the first large-scale vaccine efficacy trial to begin since the results of the RV144 trial in Thailand indicated that a prime-boost vaccine regimen provided a modest 31% protection against HIV infection.
Finally, I had the opportunity to talk with Alex Coutinho, the Ugandan physician, public health expert, and former IAVI Board member about his long and varied career working in HIV and why it was important to him to stay and work in Africa. It is through the continued dedication of individuals like him, new and sustained funding, and innovative science that progress in defeating AIDS will be made.
—Kristen Jill Kresge