IAS 2015: Vancouver Consensus Calls for Early Access to HIV Treatment and PrEP Worldwide

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Leading figures in the HIV response field have endorsed a call for immediate access to antiretroviral therapy for all people upon diagnosis with HIV on the opening day of the 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment in Prevention (IAS 2015) taking place this week in. The Vancouver Consensus statement -- intended to place pressure on donors and governments to support expanded HIV treatment and prevention -- has been endorsed by leaders of major agencies including UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The Vancouver statement calls for immediate access to antiretrovirals to everyone with HIV and for access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those at high risk of HIV exposure, and urges rapid progress towards the implementation of new scientific evidence.

"Let this be the conference where the question of when to start treatment stops being a scientific question and starts being a question of finance and political will," Chris Beyrer of Johns Hopkins University said at the opening plenary of the conference. "This conference will be a line in the sand in the HIV response."

"There is no discussion any more, the science is in," said Julio Montaner from the University of British Columbia Centre of Excellence in HIV. "IAS 2015 will finally complete a body of irrefutable evidence to make treatment as prevention the global standard of care."

Vancouver played host to a major turning point of the HIV epidemic when the 1996 International AIDS Conference heard the results from major studies showing that 3-drug antiretroviral therapy -- known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) -- provided the first truly effective treatment for HIV.

Montaner reminded delegates how much has been achieved since 1996, not least extending access to treatment to 15 million people worldwide in 2015.

"Political leaders of the world, you are either with us or against us," Prof. Montaner said.

Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, expressed concern regarding donor commitment to funding an expanded HIV response. UNAIDS estimates that a further $8 to $12 billion is needed each year until 2030 to drive down new infections through expansion of antiretroviral treatment and combination HIV prevention. Sidibe warned, "If we don’t have the resources I think we will have difficulty in sustaining our gains."

7/21/15

Sources

Vancouver Consensus Statement. http://vancouverconsensus.org.

8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention. Vancouver, July 19-22, 2015.