International AIDS Conference To Begin in Australia; More Than 5,000 Researchers To Discuss HIV/AIDS Treatment, Prevention Advances
Delegates attending the 4th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention -- scheduled to take place from July 22 to July 25 in Sydney, Australia -- are expected to present studies and discuss advances in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, AFP/Sunday Times reports (Sands, AFP/Sunday Times, 7/18). The conference aims to improve understanding of HIV/AIDS, treatments for the disease and methods to prevent it from spreading worldwide, the Sydney Star Observer reports.
David Cooper, director of Australia's National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research and conference co-chair, said studies scheduled to be presented at the conference will offer hope that research does have the answers to effectively fight the disease. They will include studies into new vaccines and classes of antiretroviral drugs, as well as research on male circumcision and lubricant gels as methods to curb the spread of HIV, Cooper said (Dennett, Sydney Star Observer, 7/19). He added that integrase inhibitors, a new class of antiretrovirals to be discussed at the conference, are "particularly potent drugs" and that eradication of HIV/AIDS will "return to the agenda with these new agents and new ways of using them." According to Cooper, another major topic at the conference will be making the latest drugs available in developing countries (AFP/Sunday Times, 7/18).
The International AIDS Society last week ahead of the conference released the Sydney Declaration, which calls for increased research funding to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide. The declaration proposes that donors allocate 10% of their HIV resources to research and states that "although funding remains insufficient to meet the increasing need for services, it is imperative that the global community does not lose sight of the future while responding to the immediate crisis."
The declaration notes that "in addition to basic, clinical, prevention, social and policy research," operations research also is important to "enable rapid implementation of new technologies to prevent, diagnose and treat" HIV. Few countries and organizations allocate funds for research and often do not use such funding when it is available, the declaration says. According to the declaration, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria allows 10% of each grant for operations research, but the provision rarely is used by countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/10).
"Good research drives good policy, so we're urging national governments and private donors to allocate no less than 10% of all HIV resources for research," Cooper said (Sydney Star Observer, 7/19). He added, "If donors can't see that there's good outcomes, that it's effective, then unfortunately, they're going to pull the plug" on funding. "The only way to keep it on track is with research," Cooper said. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, "The achievements in treatment have been breathtaking; there has been so much accomplished in the years up to 2007, but there is still much to do -- that will be the key message I'll be taking to the conference" (AFP/Sunday Times, 7/18).
Kaisernetwork.org will serve as the official webcaster of the IAS conference. Individuals can sign up for a free daily update e-mail and find more information about conference webcasts online.