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Prospects for developing a cure or sustained remission for HIV take centre stage at AIDS 2016

HIV Cure Research Advances and the New IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016 will headline the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban

(Durban, SOUTH AFRICA) -- Sixteen years ago, the historic 13th International AIDS Conference inspired a new paradigm for HIV treatment access that helped change the trajectory of the global AIDS epidemic. This year, as 18,000 scientists, policymakers, advocates and people living with HIV return to Durban, South Africa, AIDS 2016 will highlight the latest accomplishments and challenges in a rapidly expanding area of scientific inquiry that few could have imagined at the first Durban conference – the prospect of developing safe, effective, and globally scalable approaches to curing or achieving sustained remission of HIV infection.

“HIV cure research has the potential to alter the future of this epidemic,” said Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, co-chair of the IAS Towards an HIV Cure Initiative. “With 37 million people currently living with HIV worldwide, and another 2 million newly infected each year, an effective approach to curing or achieving sustained remission of HIV infection would be a groundbreaking advance in global health. Research to achieve such cures is in a formative stage, but significant advances are being made and will be explored in Durban at the fifth annual Towards and HIV Cure Symposium, and with the release of the IASGlobal Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016.”

“HIV cure research became a scientific reality with the launch of the first IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure at AIDS 2012,” noted IAS President Chris Beyrer. “Today, HIV cure research has come into its own as a top HIV research priority, marked by significant advances in our understanding of the scientific challenges and opportunities, more cure-focused research collaborations, and a new optimism that a cure or sustainable remission for HIV is feasible.”

Key IAS Towards an HIV Cure related events at AIDS 2016 include the following:

2016 Towards an HIV Cure Symposium (16 July 14:00-19:30; 17 July 09:00 – 18:00 SAST)

Note: The media embargo on all research presented at the 2016 Towards an HIV Cure Symposium lifts at the opening of the IAS Global Scientific Strategy Towards an HIV Cure 2016 Press Conference, 16 July, 12:30 Durban time.

The fifth annual Towards an HIV Cure Symposium takes place immediately preceding AIDS 2016 at the Durban International Convention Centre. Co-chaired by Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (Institut Pasteur, Paris), Steven Deeks (University of California, San Francisco), and Sharon Lewin (The Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne), the symposium includes presentations on the latest scientific advances in HIV cure research, along with opportunities for dialogue among scientists, clinical researchers, representative of funding agencies, and the community involved in HIV research worldwide through abstract driven sessions, poster exhibitions, and roundtable discussions. 

Key presenters and chairs at the symposium include some of the leading global figures in HIV cure research, including Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health; Andrew Phillips, University College, London, U.K.; Elizabeth Connick, University of Arizona, U.S.; Thumbi Ndung’u, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa; and Olivier Lambotte, APHP, Hôpital Bicêtre. Among the research highlights to be presented are:

CCR5 gene edited cells traffic to viral reservoir tissues and undergo SHIV-dependent positive selection in nonhuman primates

  • Christopher Peterson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, US, presents a gene-editing strategy in macaques that results in stable engraftment of CCR5-mutated and SHIV-resistant HSPCs and their progeny in blood, and in tissues known to serve as viral reservoirs.

Heterodimeric IL-15 induces effector cell activation and trafficking to the Germinal Centers of SIV infected Macaques

  • George Pavlakis of the National Cancer Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health discusses the role of hetIL-15 in increasing the number of CD8+ effector T cells and activated NK cells, and in trafficking to the germinal centres of SIV-infected macaques.

No evidence of ongoing replication in tissue compartments during combination antiretroviral therapy

  • Barbara Felber of the National Cancer Institute at the U.S. National Institutes of Health presents this small but important late breaker study suggesting that combination antiretroviral therapy blocks active HIV replication, including in tissues. This study includes patients on long term ART.

Effect of vorinostat, hydroxychloroquine, and maraviroc combination therapy on viremia following treatment interruption in individuals initiating ART during acute HIV infection.

  • Jintanat Ananworanich of the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre presents this late breaker randomized trial, in which participants in one study arm were treated with vorinostat/ hydroxychloroquine/maraviroc followed by treatment interruption. All participants experienced viral rebound following treatment interruption regardless of VHM treatment.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation in HIV-1 infected individuals; the EpiStem consortium

  • Annemarie Wensing of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, Netherlands describes a European cohort that includes 13 patients who have been transplanted, four with a CCR5 delta 32 donor, one with a heterozygous, and eight with a CCR5 wild type donor. Preliminary analysis of virological and immunological data from blood and tissue samples in the EpiStem Consortium shows a systematic reduction of HIV-1 reservoirs to very low levels.

SIV persistence in ART-treated infant rhesus macaques

  • Ann Chahroudi – of Emory University reports on the first demonstration of persistent suppression of viremia below the limit of detection in SIV-infected infant rhesus macaques treated with ART.


Towards an HIV Cure: Engaging the Community Workshop (16 July, 09:00 – 12:10)

Immediately preceding the Towards an HIV Cure Symposium, this interactive workshop is aimed at those interested in learning more about current directions and challenges in HIV cure research. The workshop will discuss some of the key research priorities outlined in the IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016, and will include an interactive community panel discussion on key topics pertinent to HIV cure research.

“Advocates play a lead role in keeping research institutions, policy makers, and funders focused on the need for an HIV cure,” said Damian Kelly of the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG)  “Advocates are central to expanding public awareness of and support for cure research, and to ensuring that research is conducted ethically and with the needs of patients in mind. HIV community engagement is also key both to informing patients and preparing them for participation in HIV cure studies, and to informing researchers and trial designers on the needs of study volunteers, who contribute so much to the search for an HIV cure.”

Launch of the IASGlobal Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016

The IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016, published in Nature Medicine on 11 July, will be a focal point of cure research discussion at AIDS 2016. Building on the original IAS cure research strategy published in 2012, this second and expanded global HIV cure strategy:

  • reflects the most recent findings in cure research and outlines the latest basic, translational, and clinical research priorities for the field;
  • provides a comprehensive roadmap to address gaps in scientific knowledge, drive research funding, and accelerate the search for HIV cures; and
  • includes sections on the relationships between HIV cure research and the social sciences, ethical considerations of cure research, and cure research in resource-limited settings.

The IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016 was developed over a two-year period by a 59-member, multi-disciplinary International Scientific Working Group, and through an extensive, global peer-consultation process.

Towards an HIV Cure media briefings at AIDS 2016

Saturday, 16 July, 12:30 – 13:15 – This briefing will highlight the key recommendations of the IAS Global Scientific Strategy: Towards an HIV Cure 2016 and perspectives from leading researchers on future directions in HIV cure research. The media embargo on all research presented at the 2016 Towards an HIV Cure Scientific Symposium lifts at the start of this briefing, 16 July at 12:30 Durban time.

Tuesday, 19 July, 09:30 – 10:15 – This overview of HIV cure research highlights presented at the Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and AIDS 2016 presents a more in-depth opportunity to explore the most significant advances and challenges in HIV cure research and the most promising avenues for taking HIV cure research forward.

HIV Cure Research Resources More than Doubled Since 2012

A new analysis by the IAS HIV Cure resource tracking group and AVAC shows that global investments in HIV cure funding have more than doubled in the past four years.

In 2015, an estimated US$201.8 million was invested in cure research, representing an increase of 25% over the US$160.8 million invested in 2014, and an increase of 129% over the US$88.1 million invested in 2012. The majority of investments (US$187.7 million) came from the public sector with US$14.73 million invested by philanthropies such as amfAR, CANFAR, Fair Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wellcome Trust. 

In 2015, the United States, through the U.S. National Institutes of Health, contributed the majority of public funding, with France, the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia also being significant contributors to HIV cure research.

Scholars

The Towards an HIV Cure scholarship programme supports 66 young researchers, researchers from resource-limited settings, and community representatives working to advance HIV cure research worldwide with full and partial scholarships to attend the 2016 Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and AIDS 2016. Towards an HIV Cure scholarships enable recipients to present exceptional HIV cure research through oral and poster sessions, build the global network of researchers and advocates working to advance HIV cure studies, and share ideas, debate, and network with their peers.

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About the International AIDS Society (IAS)
Founded in 1988, the International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries. IAS members work on all fronts of the global response to AIDS and include researchers, clinicians, policy and programme planners, and public health and community practitioners.

About the IAS Towards an HIV Cure Initiative
Established in 2010, the IAS Towards an HIV Cure initiative promotes scientific exchange and collaboration to accelerate HIV cure research, advocates for increased investment and global involvement in HIV cure research, and serves as a leading source of information about cure research for scientific, policy, funder, and community audiences. Towards an HIV Cure advances multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder dialogue on HIV cure research through major journal publications, hosts the annual Towards an HIV Cure Research Symposium, awards scholarships to promising early-career researchers and community representatives, collaborates on the annual cure research resource tracking report, and engages key partners to promote information sharing and encourage new cure research collaborations. 

About the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016)
The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health or development issue in the world. First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, it continues to provide a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. Each conference is an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes that ensure an evidence-based response to the epidemic. The next International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) will be held in Durban, South Africa from 16-22 July 2016.

Media Contact:
Mark Aurigemma
+1 646 270 9451
+27 62 327 1084 (South Africa)
[email protected]

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