OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: DAY 3
Experts ask: The Treatment as Prevention Revolution - Can we make it real? Is the
search for an HIV cure becoming more feasible?
Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, to address the Tuesday Plenary
Tuesday, 24 July 2012 (Washington, D.C., United States)- Implementing treatment as
prevention in those settings most affected by HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest challenges facing
the epidemic, delegates heard today at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) taking place in Washington, D.C. this week. In 2011 the Treatment as Prevention HPTN 052
study demonstrated that a 96 per cent reduction in transmission occurred when an HIV-positive
partner began treatment early (a CD4 count between 350 and 550 cells/mm 3).
"Treatment as Prevention is the biggest scientific revolution in HIV/AIDS since the first
antiretrovirals became available in 1996, and access to antiretrovirals has saved millions of
lives," said Dr. Elly Katabira, AIDS 2012 International Chair and President of the International
AIDS Society (IAS).
"A coordinated and effective roll out of programmes promoting and implementing early
diagnosis followed by early treatment in those countries most affected by the epidemic, also has
the potential to be a game changer in the fade out of the epidemic. In some countries more than
others it is going to be a huge challenge to implement and it will require committed national
political will and action."
The renewed optimism in HIV cure research over the past few years is strongly reflected in the
conference programme with some 40 related abstracts being presented this week at AIDS
2012. The launch of the Towards an HIV Cure Global Scientific Strategy last week in
Washington, D.C lays out a roadmap for future HIV cure research.
"AIDS 2012 is proving a watershed event - scientists, activists, on the ground health workers
and programme designers are all following the HIV cure issue closely," said Dr. Diane Havlir,
AIDS 2012 U.S. Co-Chair and Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San
"That the research around HIV cure is so prominent at AIDS 2012 is proof of where the science
has come these past few years, we now actively talk of potential scientific solutions in a way
perhaps we weren´t some years ago."
Several recent observations make scientists enthusiastic about pursuing cure research.
For the first time ever there is now a "proof of concept," as scientists like to call it, for an
effective cure. The case of the Timothy Brown, the so-called "Berlin Patient", who received a
stem-cell bone-marrow transplant in 2007 and now considered to be cured of HIV has proved
that a cure is at least possible.
Scientists have also been aware of a rare group of HIV infected people who appear to have
naturally "cured" their own infection. These "elite controllers" are HIV positive but have no
readily apparent virus in the blood. Scientists are gaining a better understanding of this unique
group of patients.
There exists a unique cohort of patients in France who became HIV infected, started therapy
early, and were able to successfully stop therapy without having a resurgence of their HIV
infection (the "Visconti Cohort"). The study confirms the benefits of treating HIV at the very early
stages of infection. There is an immensely valuable store of knowledge to be gained from
analyzing the immunological characteristics that made therapy redundant for these patients.
Tuesday Plenary Session
Challenges and Solutions
Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Building on Success: A National Strategy to Save Lives
In his plenary address, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh will discuss
development and implementation of the United States' first-ever comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Dr. Koh will provide an overview of the Strategy's three goals and share
brief examples of how the U.S. is working to achieve them. "As we build on the foundation
we've established, we continue to benefit from the experience and expertise of our many
domestic and global partners," said Dr. Koh. "My hope is that, together, we can seize this
moment and channel this momentum toward the vision of an AIDS-free generation," he added.
Javier Martinez-Picado, AIDS Research Institute -IrsiCaixa, Viral Eradication: The Cure
An overview of the reasons for making HIV cure a research priority, the existing limitations to
an HIV cure, the potential strategies to achieve it, current pilot clinical trials aimed at a cure,
and current and future challenges in the field. In order to find a safe, affordable and scalable
cure strategy for HIV there is a need to coordinate innovative basic, translational and clinical
Nelly Mugo, Senior Research Scientist, Kenyatta National Hospital Nairobi, Kenya
Implementation Science: Making the New Prevention Revolution Real
The use of antiretroviral drugs for HIV-1 prevention of mother to child transmission (both as
Treatment for the expectant mother and PrEP for the infant), has led to the virtual elimination of
perinatal HIV in Western countries and great strides in reducing incidence globally. Recent
scientific data has provided proof, that ARVs are equally efficacious in adult sexual HIV
transmission for different sexual orientations. In addition to ARVs for sexual HIV transmission, we have VMMC, condoms and behavioral interventions which have made a dent to the
epidemic over the years.
Though challenging, we should not be shy of the task ahead but take heart from PMTCT, that
though the use of ART for prevention does not come without challenges, it does provide a real
opportunity to turn the dream of a future for our children without HIV/AIDS into a reality.
Combining behavioral interventions, expanding access to treatment as prevention and initiating
PrEP provides both community and individual benefits. It will take a concerted effort and
commitment from a wide spectrum of players, but it is possible. As stated previously, any other
action would be deem as an irresponsible generation.
Bernhard Schwartländer, Director for Evidence, Strategy and Results UNAIDS, What Will It
Take to Turn the Tide?
There will be enough funding for a global AIDS response over the coming 10-15 years - but
only if we use what we already have more effectively, work in smart ways to reduce prices, and
think far beyond the traditional concept of ODA to secure additional funds. In ten years, it will no
longer be possible to separate between a rich and a poor world. To find sufficient funding to win
the fight, we need to do better with what we have and understand this complex new world order
within a framework of shared responsibility.
Tuesday Program Highlights
Special Session, China, India, South Africa, Brazil: How Will They Use Their Leadership
to Advance the AIDS Response (13.00 – 14.00, Session Room 1)
Symposia Session: The Lancet 2012 Special Theme Series: MSM and HIV (16:30 – 18:00
Session Room 1)
Presentations from The Lancet’s special themed issue on HIV epidemic among men who have sex with
men, among the most heavily burdened groups.
AIDS 2012 Live webcast: www.kff.org/aids2012
Direct link for the Tuesday plenary: http://globalhealth.kff.org/AIDS2012/july-24/challengesand-
AIDS 2012 is convened by the International AIDS Society and the conference's international 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 United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS): the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC); and Sidaction.
The U.S.- based Black AIDS Institute; the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH); the HIV Medicine
Association (HIVMA) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA); the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the
White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP); and the U.S. Positive Women's Network (USPWN) serve as local partners.
AIDS 2012: Join the conversation
Get the latest conference updates and share your thoughts and ideas through the Conference Facebook and Twitter. We are
tweeting - @aids2012 - and hope many of you will tweet along with us, using #AIDS2012 to keep the conversation going.
Become a fan of AIDS 2012 on Facebook and stay in touch with the latest conference updates and developments.
Please visit www.facebook.com/aids2012 to become a fan. If your group or organization is participating in AIDS 2012, we welcome posts of photos and videos of your work on this page. Tell us why you are coming to Washington and what you hope to gain from AIDS 2012.
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. Our 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 the custodian of the biennial International AIDS Conference, which will be held in
Washington, D.C., in July 2012, and lead organizer of the IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.
Onsite Media centre: +1 202 249 4032
Francesca Da Ros
AIDS 2012 Communications and Media Officer
Mob: +1 (202) 997 6917
AIDS 2012 International Media Coordinator
Mob: +1 (202) 430 2160
Shawn Jain (Washington, D.C.)
U.S Media Relations
Mobile: +1 (202) 714-0535
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