IAVI REPORT – VOL. 21, NO. 2, 2017
I recently found myself walking past the New York City AIDS Memorial. It is located in a triangular park astride what was formerly St. Vincent's Hospital in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The centerpiece of the Memorial is an 18-foot geometric white slatted metal structure that stands over a black fountain, around which is marble engraved with text from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass. The text component was created by artist Jenny Holzer, and according to Wikipedia, more than 500 architects contributed to the design of the memorial that officially opened on World AIDS Day (December 1) 2016.
It is a stark and chilling reminder of the city’s more than 100,000 men, women, and children who have died of AIDS. Yet as you glance up at the sky through the canopy’s triangular structure, you can’t help but feel hopeful. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” Whitman’s line ends the string of text at the memorial and seems an appropriate way to summarize the emotions it invokes. AIDS is large. It contains multitudes. And there are still many stories to tell.
In this issue, we have stories running the gamut from scientific updates presented at the Keystone Symposium on HIV Vaccines, held in March, to a profile of the promising cytomegalovirus-based HIV vaccine candidate that is soon to enter Phase I clinical trials.
On the broader issue of pandemic preparedness, I spoke with Michael Osterholm, author of the recently published book Deadliest Enemy, Our War Against Killer Germs. In his book, and throughout our interview, he provides a lucid and somewhat terrifying description of the top infectious disease threats facing the world and how more science and funding are needed to keep them at bay.
Finally, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then the recently held workshop, Harnessing Novel Imaging Approaches to Guide HIV Prevention and Cure Discoveries, was probably akin to Proust. This two-day meeting featured a slew of interesting pictures of the virus, and two of the meeting’s co-chairs curated a selection of the best for us to feature in this issue. These useful, and dare I say beautiful images, are allowing scientists to visualize the virus’s interactions with the immune system in an attempt to create better preventive and cure strategies.
“Do you see O my brothers and sisters? It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is eternal life—it is happiness. The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them, and proceed to fill my next fold of the future.” —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
—Kristen Jill Kresge