“We are at a scientific watershed in the global AIDS response,” said IAS 2011 International Chair and International AIDS Society President Elly Katabira. “We have witnessed two years of significant biomedical advances, the likes of which we have not seen since the antiretroviral breakthroughs of the mid 1990s. The excitement around these advances in research—whether they are the CAPRISA 004 vaginal gel, the HPTN 052 study on treatment as prevention or the encouraging signs on PrEP and vaccines—is very much driving the debates and discussions that we are going to see in Rome over the next few days.”

It is against this backdrop that the 6th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011) opened in Rome on 17 July. More than 5000 AIDS researchers, scientists, clinicians, community leaders and policy experts have gathered to examine the latest developments in HIV-related research and to explore how scientific advances can inform the global response to AIDS. 

Echoing this call at the opening session, IAS 2011 Local Co-Chair and Research Director at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità Stefano Vella insisted on the need to evenly share the recent advances in biomedical research between the global North and South. “We need to ensure that the advances we are making in research such as the now proven concept of antiretroviral treatment as a means of HIV prevention is translated into action for people in developing countries.”The IAS Conference will also focus on finding ways to translate research into practice, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In his opening session keynote speech, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé described the current gaps in access to HIV treatment within and between countries and key populations as “an affront to humanity,” but also reminded the audience that these gaps “can and must be closed by innovations in developing, pricing and delivering treatments and commodities for HIV, TB, malaria, reproductive health and other health issues”. “We have to remember that history will judge us not by our scientific breakthroughs, but how we apply them,” added Mr Sidibé.

Mr Vella also used the occasion to call on the Italian government to re-commit to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “Advances in science need to be matched by advances in resourcing. I call on the Italian government to recommit itself as a donor nation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” said Mr Vella.

IAS 2011 will reveal promising new data across all four scientific tracks – particularly in the areas of HIV treatment as prevention, HIV cure efforts, new drugs and new antiretroviral combinations, and the scale up of effective prevention and treatment interventions in resource-limited settings.

Source: UNAIDS