ICAP convened a group of leading HIV researchers for a special symposium on October 10 to discuss current opportunities and challenges in HIV prevention and to launch a supplement of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), which looks at state of the art HIV prevention. ICAP Director, Wafaa El-Sadr and invited symposium co-chair Myron Cohen, Director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease at UNC Chapel Hill, were among the four guest editors for this special supplement.
The symposium featured presentations from contributing authors including Wafaa El-Sadr, Myron Cohen, Andrea Howard, and Robert Remien, who all also participated in a panel discussion joined by Elaine Abrams, Director of Research at ICAP.
Dr. El-Sadr moderated the event and provided an overview of the global HIV epidemic, recent advances in prevention and the importance of integrated strategies that combine biomedical, behavioral, social, and structural tools to synergistically drive down HIV incidence in highly affected populations.
Dr. Cohen discussed the history of use of antiretroviral drugs for prevention, including use of antiretroviral drugs for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral therapy for prevention, with particular focus on findings from HPTN 052 which confirmed the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy in preventing HIV transmission among heterosexual serodiscordant couples. The results of HPTN 052 have spurred international discussion of expanding eligibility of ART to HIV positive persons with healthier immune statuses in an effort to reduce sexual transmission of HIV.
Bringing her perspective as the ICAP clinical and training unit director, Dr. Howard discussed the real world implications of this early ART intervention approach to HIV prevention. She highlighted ART for prevention as promising but also advised it should not distract from quality HIV programming, effectiveness of the HIV care cascade, and the importance of other prevention interventions.
Robert Remien, PhD, director of the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies presented on the global HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men (MSM), the multifactoral nature of MSM HIV vulnerabilities, the diversity of MSM and the role that plays in designing and targeting interventions, and recent findings and new directions for combating the epidemic among the MSM population.
The discussion that followed engaged the researchers and public health students on topics ranging from prevention of HIV among pregnant women and newborns in resource limited countries to the effects of implementing treatment as prevention at the country level and strategies to provide pre-exposure prophylaxis to high risk groups such as MSM.
Read the full JAIDS supplement, sponsored by HIV Prevention Trials Network, and entitled, _State of the Art HIV Prevention_, “here”:http://journals.lww.com/jaids/toc/2013/07012.