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Leading scientists, community leaders and policy makers to gather in Montreal to present and discuss the newest HIV research findings

Ottawa (March 22, 2012) - Organizers of the 21st Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research - to be held in Montreal from April 19 to 22 - officially announced the conference theme and research programme today. The conference, which will bring together more than 800 of Canada's top scientists, physicians and community leaders, will include five major plenary presentations focussing on the paramount issues facing the global HIV/AIDS response.

The theme of this year's Conference is "A Turning Point in the Fight against HIV: Meeting New Challenges". Thirty years after the first reported case of AIDS, the epidemic has now reached a turning point. Due to the availability of effective antiretroviral drugs, Canadians are now living longer with the virus, and thus are exposed to long-term drug toxicities. As HIV infection becomes more like a chronic illness, there is a growing complacency among the general population and thus a greater need for prevention strategies.

"We chose this year's theme to recognize a defining moment in the epidemic," said conference co-chair Jean-Pierre Routy, Professor of Medicine, McGill University. "For the first time we have started to curb the HIV epidemic, representing the turning point in the global response to control the infection."

"Vulnerable populations in Canada such as injection drug users, women, and Aboriginals are still facing unanswered challenges to improve their quality of life," noted conference co-chair Dr. Pierre Côté, Clinique médicale du Quartier Latin and the Center hospitalier de l'université de Montréal. "We need to overcome the emotional, social, and financial barriers to lessen the epidemic in these hard-to-reach populations."

This year's programme will present new scientific knowledge on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. Featured plenary sessions will be:

  • Mark A. Wainberg Lecture: "The riddle of the HIV-resistant sex workers: Critical role of innate mucosal immunity", Dr. Kenneth Rosenthal, McMaster University;
  • Clinical Sciences: "NeuroAIDS-a view from the clinic and laboratory", Dr. Christopher Power, University of Alberta;
  • Social Sciences: "Stopping the Epidemic: A Challenge for the Humanities and the Social Sciences", Dr. Bruno Spire, INSERM (France);
  • Basic Sciences: "Defining the interaction of HIV and the mucosal barriers exposed during sexual transmission", Dr. Thomas Hope, Northwestern University (Chicago); and
  • Epidemiology and Public Health: "Global landscape of HIV diagnostics", Dr. Rosanna Peeling, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK).

"CAHR 2012 will be a tremendous opportunity for researchers and community members from coast to coast to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one another's expertise, and develop new ways to treat and prevent HIV," said Jonathan Angel, CAHR President and Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa.

In addition, a roundtable discussion on the Origins of HIV Transmission will be led by Dr. Jacques Pépin (Universite de Sherbrooke) and world renowned researcher Dr. Mark Wainberg (McGill University). Dr. Pepin's 2011 book "The Origins of AIDS" took a controversial look at the history of HIV/AIDS, tracing not only the current outbreak, but also looking at earlier outbreaks perhaps dating to the 1920s and 1930s. Finally, Dr. Peter Ford will lead a panel discussion on "HIV in Canadian Corrections Facilities". Dr. Ford is Emeritus Professor Medicine at Queen's University and practicing HIV medicine at Kingston General Hospital and area federal prisons.

It is estimated that 34 million people are living with AIDS, of which 2.3 million are children most of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. In Canada, HIV remains a pressing issue with an estimated 2300 to 4300 new infections each year, with certain populations over-represented in the epidemic.

About CAHR
The Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) is the professional organization for HIV/AIDS research in Canada and by Canadians. CAHR is composed of researchers in all disciplines of HIV/AIDS science, for the purpose of improving prevention and treatment with an ultimate goal of eradication and cure. The annual CAHR conference is the premier gathering in Canada for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic.

See conference website at: and a detailed overview of conference speakers at:


Erin Love
Conference Media Coordinator

Andrew Matejcic
Executive Director, CAHR

"Reproduced with permission - "Canadian Association for HIV Research"

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