Top Scientists Unite to Develop Global Scientific Strategy
Towards an HIV Cure
-- February, 28, 2011 -- More than 30 scientists gathered for a one-day
meeting prior to the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic
Infections (CROI) to launch an international working group on HIV reservoirs
and strategies to control them. Under the auspices of the International
AIDS Society, the scientists will guide the development of a global
scientific strategy towards an HIV cure.
The strategy aims at building a global consensus on the state of the
HIV reservoirs field and defining scientific priorities that must be
addressed by future research to tackle HIV persistency in patients undergoing
antiretroviral therapy, the key hurdle impeding any alternative to long-term
therapy. This global scientific strategy will help mobilize and focus
resources to fund the most promising strategies towards a sterilizing
or a functional cure, and stimulate international research collaborations.
The international scientific working group will be co-chaired by Professor
Francoise Barré-Sinoussi, International AIDS Society (IAS) President-elect
and 2008 Nobel Laureate for Medicine, and Professor Steve Deeks, University
of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Positive Health Program (AIDS
Program) at San Francisco General Hospital.
The working group will work closely with an advisory board composed
of leading advocates and major research stakeholders in HIV cure, including
representatives of people living with HIV, funders and clinicians from
high prevalence settings. The advisory group will be co-chaired by Pr.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Dr. Jack Whitescarver, Director
of the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health.
"Antiretroviral therapy has greatly improved the quality of life
and reduced mortality rates of people living with HIV. However, even
in successfully treated individuals, HIV remains dormant in certain
cells, obliging patients to undertake life-long treatment to keep these
viral reservoirs under control. If we are to envisage a successful discontinuation
of treatment, we need to better understand why and how HIV infection
persists despite treatment and to develop new therapeutic strategies,"
said Pr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.
initiative comes on the back of the successful workshop "Towards
a Cure: HIV Reservoirs and Strategies to Control Them," held in
conjunction with the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010)
in Vienna in July 2010. The International AIDS Society (IAS) decided
to continue to mobilize the scientific community and guide the development
of the global scientific strategy Towards an HIV Cure, which will be
presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), to be
held in Washington DC in July 2012.
line with the International AIDS Society's strategic plan for 2010-2014,
the IAS Governing Council has prioritized an HIV cure as one of its
four key policy areas. "It is our mission to mobilize the scientific
community and advocate for increased investments in HIV cure research,
in order to develop short-term and cost-effective treatment strategies,"
said Bertrand Audoin, IAS Executive Director.
"As a physician, I am fully aware that HIV persistence remains
a daunting and complex challenge," said Elly Katabira, IAS President.
"But we need to offer people living with HIV an alternative to
the burden of a difficult life-long ARV regimen."
Given the current economic situation and the pace of new infections
that, in resource-limited countries, are still outstripping numbers
on treatment by five to two, long-term remission of infected individuals,
or even eradication of viral reservoirs is a time sensitive priority.
About the IAS
International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent
association of HIV professionals, with over 16,000 members from more
than 196 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS.
Our members include researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public
health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the epidemic,
as well as policy and programme planners. The IAS is the custodian of
the biennial International AIDS Conference and lead organizer of the
IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which
will be held in Rome, Italy in July 2011.