Professor Sharon Lewin, Co-Chair of the 20th International AIDS Conference says research towards finding an HIV Cure must be stepped up
Thursday, 20 March, 2014, (New Delhi, India)
- An HIV Cure may one day be scientifically possible but it will require
substantial investment and collaboration to have any chance of
becoming a reality, leading HIV scientist and Local Co-Chair of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) Professor Sharon Lewin has told an
audience during a public seminar delivered today in New Delhi, India.
"The task of finding an HIV Cure is too big for one laboratory or one country," said
Lewin. "Ultimately, should we be successful in finding a cure, we must also ensure that
any cure is affordable and available to all who need it."
The seminar, hosted by UNAIDS India and the State Government of Victoria in
Australia, heard Professor Lewin, who is also Director of the Department of Infectious
Diseases at The Alfred Hospital & Monash University in Melbourne,
and Co-Head of the Centre for Biomedical Research at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia,
outline recent developments in HIV Cure research that have made global headlines over the
past few years: examples such as Timothy Brown, the first man cured of HIV/AIDS
through a bone marrow transplant and the case of the Mississippi baby who was
treated with antiretroviral drugs for HIV immediately after birth and
two years since being taken off therapy at 18 months, remains free of HIV.
"Finding a cure for HIV- or a way for patients to safely stop
taking antiretrovirals and keep the virus under control-will therefore have a very significant global economic and
individual impact," said Lewin. "The big challenge is this: how to find a way to
permanently knock out these last ''reservoirs'' of the virus or boost the immune system
to keep any remaining virus at very low levels."
Professor Lew in described how early treatment might be one way to dramatically
reduce virus that persists in patients on treatment.
Trials that start treatment in babies born to infected mothers are now under way in the U.S. and
resource limited settings such as Thailand and South Africa.
Another approach is to wake up the sleeping virus. One
specialised anti-cancer drug, Vorinostat, was recently shown to do just that in two clinical trials in Melbourne,
Australia and in North Carolina. The next step is to wake up the virus more effectively
and also find a way to kill the infected cell. An approach that is now referred to as
"shock and kill".
Gene therapy may also be a path to a cure. A few weeks ago, scientists explained that
they had successfully genetically modified a patient's cells to make the cells resistant to
HIV infection. Twelve patients received the gene modified cells and these modified cells
survived for weeks after the infusion.
"The next step and it is a big one of course, will be to work out how to encourage more
gene modified cells to survive and hopefully one day, keep the virus out or in effect
curing that patient," concluded Lewin.
UNAIDS Country Director in India,
Mr. Oussama Tawil, said it was promising that the
scientific community is making significant progress
in HIV research.
"At the same time however, we are continuing to face challenges-existing and
emerging ones-including stigma, discrimination, and marginalisation of people
affected by HIV," he said. Referring to the significance of 'Stepping up the Pace' -
the theme of the upcoming International AIDS Conference this year, he added
that "at a time when the post-2015 development agenda is being shaped, stepping up the pace
must happen on all fronts: so that no one is left behind in the efforts towards achieving
the three zeroes-zero new infection, zero new AIDS related death, and zero
"As the Victorian Government's representative in India I am proud to promote AIDS
2014 being held in Melbourne in July," said Wayne Lewis, Commissioner to India for the
Government of Victoria. "This event will be a wonderful opportunity for India's leading
scientists, medical practitioners and policy makers to meet and share the latest scientific
advances in the field. With over 14,000 delegates from around 200 countries this
conference is a wonderful opportunity to advance the world`s collective efforts in the
treatment and prevention of HIV."
Notes to Editors
All media are encouraged to register as early as possible. Registering will automatically place media representatives on a database
enabling them to receive important p ress announcements in the lead up to the International AIDS Conference.
For more information on media registration process and requirements please visit: http://www.aids2014.org/Default.aspx?page Id=668
All visitors to Australia must have a valid visa before boarding their plain regardless the length of stay. For more information
about visit requirements please visit: http://www.aids2014 .org/Default.aspx?pageId=611
AIDS 2014 Conference Organization
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).
permanent partners are the Positive Women's Network and Sidaction.
The Australian based partners are: AusAID; the Australasian Society for HIV Medi
(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
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About the IAS
The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with over
16,000 members from more than 196 countries working at all levels of the global response to AIDS. The IAS members include
researchers from all disciplines, clinicians, public health and community practitioners on the frontlines of the
epidemic, as well as policy and programme planners.
The IAS is lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, 30 June – 3 July 2013 and custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference, which will be held in
Melbourne, Australia, 20-25 July 2014.
www.iasociety.org | www.ias2013.org | www.aids2014.org
For more information:
Michael Kessler (in Delhi , India )
AIDS 2014 Media Consultant
Mob : +34 655 792 699
Skype : mickgpi
Francesca Da Ros (Geneva, Switzerland)
Communications and Media Officer
Phone: +41 22 710 0822
Moore (Melbourne, Australia
Local Communications Coordinator, AIDS 2014
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