History of the IAS

Episode 11 - 2013-2014: Malaysia and beyond


Kuala Lumpur

The 7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013) was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was the first time this conference was held in Asia. Attended by 5,220 participants from 127 countries, the conference featured many topics specific to the Asian region, such as addressing problems associated with injecting drug user and co-infections with HIV and tuberculosis or hepatitis C. Malaysia was described as a perfect venue for IAS 2013 because for decades the country has shown leadership in the region in providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) and, despite having strict drug laws, initiated a needle-exchange programme for drug users in 2005 that led to reductions in HIV infection rates.

At IAS 2013 delegates had also the opportunity to hear all the details about the recent two biggest advancements made in the cure research area: the “Mississippi baby” case on the first functional cure of an infant that started ART only 30 hours after birth and the “Boston patients” that are the two HIV-positive cancer patients that had no trace of the HIV virus after receiving stem-cell bone marrow transplants and later purposefully stopped ART.

A huge development was the announcement of the 2013 World Health Organization (WHO) antiretroviral guidelines, recommending early antiretroviral initiation at a CD4 count less than or equal to 500 cells/mm3, up from 350 cells/mm3, as well as a suite of other recommendations pertaining to ART.  A major emphasis of the conference was a focus on addressing the limitations of ART and making ART available to all who need it globally, in particular to pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT). It was reported that only around 30% of pregnant women are offered an HIV test in East, South and Southeast Asia, and that across the same three regions only around 16% of HIV-infected pregnant women receive antiretrovirals to prevent MTCT of HIV.

At the Conference the delegates heard the latest developments in accelerated research towards an HIV cure – with a shift from eradicating free virus (the goal when antiretrovirals became available) to the goal of targeting latent virus. In addition, considerable discussion addressed unique issues facing adolescents with HIV, a growing population, as individuals infected either in utero or at birth head towards their teenage and young adult years.


Melbourne

As 2013 draws to a close, the IAS is now in the full swing of its preparations for the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) which will be held in Melbourne, Australia in July 2014. AIDS 2014 is expected to convene over 14,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including 1,200 journalists.

The convening of the conference in Australia represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the Asia Pacific region’s HIV epidemic and the unique responses to it. Gathering in Melbourne, the IAS will work together to strengthen efforts across all regions and around the world, building on the momentum of recent scientific advances and the momentum from AIDS 2012.

The Australian health policy response to HIV has been characterized as emerging from the grassroots rather than top-down, with a high degree of partnership between scientists, government and community. AIDS 2014 will be an important opportunity to share the benefits of such partnerships with other countries.

As 2013 draws to a close, the IAS is now in the full swing of its preparations for the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) which will be held in Melbourne, Australia in July 2014. AIDS 2014 is expected to convene over 14,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including 1,200 journalists.

The convening of the conference in Australia represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the Asia Pacific region’s HIV epidemic and the unique responses to it. Gathering in Melbourne, the IAS will work together to strengthen efforts across all regions and around the world, building on the momentum of recent scientific advances and the momentum from AIDS 2012.

The Australian health policy response to HIV has been characterized as emerging from the grassroots rather than top-down, with a high degree of partnership between scientists, government and community. AIDS 2014 will be an important opportunity to share the benefits of such partnerships with other countries.

Hosting AIDS 2014 in Melbourne will also make it possible for those from across the region to attend the conference and share their successes and challenges on a global level. The larger Asia Pacific region has the largest geographic area and population in the world, dramatically varying levels of wealth, and a complex mix of structural and behavioural determinants of HIV risk, giving the experts from the region unique perspectives on the epidemic that will be of great value to their colleagues from around the world.

The theme of AIDS 2014, Stepping up the Pace, reflects that although we have seen substantial gains made in cure and vaccine research, growing numbers of people receiving antiretroviral treatment, falling rates of infection and more evidence on treatment as prevention, there is still much progress to be made. Many regions are struggling to address their HIV epidemics among a backdrop of ever increasing infections, hostile stigma and discrimination, and difficulties in funding, implementation and political challenges. Stepping up the Pace reflects the crucial opportunity that AIDS 2014 will provide for mobilizing stakeholders, joining forces and building on the present momentum necessary to change the course of the epidemic.

AIDS 2014 is convened by the IAS and permanent partners: the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+); the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO); the International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS (ICW), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Non-permanent partners are the Positive Women’s Network and Sidaction. The Australian based partners are: AusAID; the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM); and the National Association of people with HIV Australia (NAPWHA). The Asia Pacific Partners are: The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW); the AIDS Society of Asia and the Pacific (ASAP); and the National AIDS Research of India (NARI).

 

See also...

Episode 1: 1985-1988
International AIDS Conferences - Struggling for Knowledge

Episode 2: 1989-1993
IAS and the early conferences - Frustration and hope

Episode 3: 1994-1998
The discovery of a revolutionary treatment that entails accessibility issues

Episode 4: 2000
AIDS Denialism and Treatment Equity at the Durban Conference

Episode 5: 2002-2004
The Push for Universal Access

Episode 6: 2004-2006
IAS Consolidation and Expansion

Episode 7
IAS initiatives and Conferences on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment

Episode 8: 2007-2008
Good research drives good policy

Episode 9: 2009-2010
Keeping the promise

Episode 10: 2011-2012
Renewed optimism

Episode 11: 2013-2014
Malaysia and beyond

Episode 12
Recent research promotion, policy and membership achievements