AIDS 2010 Heralds Continued Innovation in Global AIDS Response
Exciting New Avenues of Research and Policy Drive Expansion of HIV Treatment
Access, Use of Antiretrovirals to Prevent Infections and Pursuit of a Cure
21 July 2010 [Vienna, Austria]- The unwillingness of the global AIDS community to accept the
status quo is fuelling a new era of scientific innovation to drive novel ways of treating and
preventing HIV, organizers of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) taking place in
Vienna, Austria said today. And, with millions of lives dependent on expanding access to
antiretroviral treatment to all those clinically in need, researchers and clinicians are partnering in
new ways to find the most effective and efficient methods to deliver treatment and strengthen
health systems. A new Medicines Patent Pool described in today's plenary session also offers the
possibility of broader access to more effective and less toxic regimens.
"The inspiring element of the conference so far has been the marriage of cutting edge science and
innovative policy and programming," said Dr. Brigitte Schmied, AIDS 2010 Local Co-Chair and
President of the Austrian AIDS Society. "We need that same energy and creativity to break through
the HIV-related stigma and discrimination that prevents too many from benefitting from the
knowledge we already have about how to save lives."
Growing evidence of the power of antiretroviral drugs to prevent new infections offers the
possibility of a major step toward universal access to HIV prevention while increasing access to
lifesaving care. The use of treatment science to develop new prevention modalities, such as the
antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicide used in the CAPRISA trial, whose results were released
this week, is a further example of the drive to provide a variety of effective new prevention options.
"Additional evidence demonstrating the potential use of antiretroviral drugs to prevent infections
coupled with other exciting scientific advances discussed this week signal a potential new era in
innovation," said Dr. Julio Montaner, AIDS 2010 Chair, President of the International AIDS Society
and Director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada. "At the same
time, with lifesaving treatment and prevention tools readily available now, world leaders must step
up and fund universal access."
There is also an increasing focus on the development and pursuit of strategies for a cure. Key
experts in the area of latent viral reservoirs met just prior to the conference to examine new
scientific results in this arena to inform the way forward. The meeting was also convened to
encourage young investigators to work on this priority topic. Participants will provide an update in a
press conference at 14:00 today.
Anti-HIV Drugs for Prevention
Dr. Bernard Hirschel (Switzerland) of the Infectious Diseases Service Geneva University Hospitals
said that treatment as prevention is a promising strategy that needs to be properly evaluated in
clinical trials. It is known that decreased viral load lowers the risk of HIV transmission and that
effective treatment lowers viral load to undetectable levels. Therefore, if one could identify and
treat all PLHIV, the AIDS epidemic would wither and die away. However, such a radical solution is
a "pipe dream". In reality, the preventive potential of ART currently is not fully characterized.
Modelers have tried to fill the gap, but models differ depending on assumptions, which are
debated. As treatment expands, incidence in some cities has fallen, which is encouraging, but
correlation does not necessarily imply causation. Studies in sero-discordant couples appear to
show that treatment protects from transmission, as well, but such couples are only part of the
sexually active population potentially at risk.
Funding agencies are currently evaluating proposals for more definitive studies, where a number of
communities are randomized to receive the "test-and-treat" approach, or continue as before. These
trials face logistical, practical and ethical obstacles. However, without more definitive data, the
intuitive appeal of "test-and-treat" is unlikely to translate into action on a global scale. In the
meantime, based on the available evidence, the medical community must strive to provide
treatment under current guidelines to those patients in need, leading to better individual and
societal outcomes, including decreasing HIV incidence.
A Proposal for Change: Managing Patents for Access to AIDS Medicines for All
Ellen 't Hoen (The Netherlands) of UNITAID discussed the Medicines Patent Pool, a new
mechanism that allows patent holders to voluntarily offer the intellectual property related to their
AIDS medicines, under certain conditions. Any company wishing to use the intellectual property to
produce the drugs can do so in exchange for a royalty payment. t'Hoen noted that if licenses for
patents on AIDS drugs are not made available in countries that grant patents, generic competition
will no longer be able to play a role in bringing down prices.
Over the past 10 years, activism, generic competition for medications, the development of fixeddose
combinations, and many countries' willingness to use flexibilities in national and international
patent rules have greatly increased access to antiretroviral therapy, according to t'Hoen. However,
many patients will soon need to switch to much more expensive second- and third-line drugs and
the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending newer, safer, patent-protected
medications. By making licenses available and harnessing the power of competition in medicines
markets, the Medicines Patent Pool could promote the availability of better and more robust
treatments and generate considerable cost savings.
ART Advances - Into the Next Decade
Dr. James Hakim (Zimbabwe) of the University of Zimbabwe called on the HIV/AIDS community to
accelerate access to antiretroviral therapy that maintains the long-term health of PLHIV; develop
point-of-care diagnostics that allow clinicians to prescribe medications wisely; and improve health
delivery systems that can efficiently provide therapy to those still in need. He said that despite the
rapid scale-up of ART, the world is not moving fast enough to keep up with the pace of five new
HIV infections for every two PLHIV who gain access to ART.
New WHO treatment guidelines recommend phasing out older, more toxic drugs and beginning
therapy at higher CD4 counts, which increases the number of PLHIV eligible for treatment. As
countries move to adopt these recommendations, equity and human rights must remain paramount
to implementing a progressive and comprehensive HIV response. He concluded that the Millennium Development Goals serve as a clear roadmap to the overall achievement of the sanctity
of human dignity.
Visit www.aids2010.org for complete programme information and comprehensive online coverage, as well as a link to
the Vienna Declaration, the official declaration of the XVIII
International AIDS Conference, which calls for a reorientation of international drug policy.
About the AIDS 2010 Organizers
AIDS 2010 is convened by the IAS, the world’s leading independent association of HIV
professionals, in partnership with a number of international, regional and local partners.
International partners for AIDS 2010 include:
• Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), including its co-sponsors, the World
Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
• International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
• Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+)/International Community of Women
Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW)
• World YWCA
• Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC)
Local and regional partners for AIDS 2010 include local scientific leadership and:
• City of Vienna
• Government of Austria
• Aids Hilfe Wien
• Austrian AIDS Society
• East European & Central Asian Union of PLWH (ECUO)
• European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS)
• European Commission
Regina Aragón (Rome)
International AIDS Society
+39 329 445 9590
Christian Strohmann (Vienna)
AIDS 2010 Local Secretariat
+43 699 181 73002
Scott Sanders (Washington, DC)
High Noon Communications
+1 202 332 2303