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Major Conference on Natural Immunity to HIV/AIDS

November 12, 2009 - More than 75 of the world's top HIV/AIDS researchers will assemble in Winnipeg, Canada, this weekend to discuss the phenomenon of natural immunity to HIV/AIDS.

The International Centre for Infectious Diseases (ICID), the University of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada are holding the first International Symposium on Natural Immunity to HIV (ISNIH) from November 15 - 17, 2009. The conference is being sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

"One of ICID's main roles is to bring people together to increase collaboration and spur innovation," said Heather Medwick, acting President and CEO of ICID. "We hope that this will build and strengthen existing ties between researchers and speed the development of a viable vaccine for HIV/AIDS."

"We've learned a great deal about this virus but there is much work left to do, said Dr. Frank Plummer, Scientific Director General of the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory. Bringing together the best minds in the field will help us get there faster, we appreciate the continued support of the Gates Foundation in reaching our goal of an effective vaccine to prevent this devastating disease altogether"

"University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine researchers have been at the forefront of research on natural immunity to HIV and are proud to bring together the world's leaders to exchange scientific findings and to create a strategy for working together at the international level toward research discovery and success," said Dr. J. Dean Sandham, Dean of Medicine, University of Manitoba.

Natural immunity to HIV/AIDS was discovered in some Nairobi sex workers by UM researchers in the 1980s and is thought to be one of the most promising leads for the development of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent HIV, but its rarity has made it difficult to establish a critical mass of data from which meaningful conclusions can be drawn. The purpose of the conference is to help build that critical mass by establishing a new, international consortium focusing on the topic.

Objectives of the Symposium include developing a baseline of current knowledge on correlates of HIV protection; identifying research gaps and partnership opportunities; and establishing a new, international consortium focusing on natural immunity to HIV.

According to the World Health Organization, HIV/AIDS is the fourth most common cause of death in the world, and the single most common cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Contact: Heather Medwick, Acting President and CEO, International Centre for Infectious Diseases Tel: 204.946.0908 Email:

Ilana Simon, Director of Communications & Marketing, Faculty of Medicine Tel: 204.789.3427 or Cell: 204.295.6777 Email: Public Health Agency of Canada, Jana Lerner, Communications Officer Tel: 204.789.5046

Source: University of Manitoba

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