By Hilary Bainemigisha
The International AIDS Vaccine 2013 conference started on Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain, and will go on till October 10.
The annual conference brings together more than 1,000 researchers, funders, experts in HIV, policy makers, implementers, and stakeholders to discuss over 450 studies outlining the latest advances and obstacles in the search for an HIV vaccine.
The conference is hosted by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, a collaboration of HIV vaccine research, funding, advocacy and stakeholder organizations in collaboration with the HIVACAT Program for HIV Vaccine Research, based in Barcelona.
According to Boneventura Clotet of the AIDS Institute, Spain and one of the organizers, 46 countries are represented and 50% of the research presentations will be from career investigators. It is the world’s only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to HIV vaccine research.
The world is still looking for a vaccine that can help stop the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the last three decades, HIV vaccine research has produced robust information about the HIV, drugs, body responses, which are a good build up for further investigation.
This conference is expected to review the progress of several vaccine candidates being tested globally, examine the Thailand vaccine trial of 2009 which showed modest protection from HIV infection and study new ways being tried in animals.
“We shall also discuss advances proposed to engineer immunogens capable of inducing the neutralizing antibodies that could form the future vaccine candidates,” said Bill Snow, the director Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.
The theme of the Barcelona conference is Progress, Partnerships and Perseverance.
A significant number of presentations will come from the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. From Uganda, there will be presentations and posters from about 10 researchers, implementers and experts.
They include Charles Brown from the Infectious Diseases Institute and Andrew Ekii Obuku from the Medical Research Council (MRC).
Other Ugandans and their presentations
Deogratius Ssemwanga, MRC /Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) will present a study on Incidence of HIV among female sex workers in Uganda
Aloysious Semaganda, UVRI-IAVI whose study is on circumcision.
Annet Nalutaaya, UVRI-IAVI whose presentation is on the HIV Vaccine study among fishing communities around Lake Victoria
Noah Kiwanuka whose study is on the willingness of fishing communities in Uganda to participate in trials
Swaibu Lule, MRC/UVRI, on the foetus immune response
Lillian Naigaga Mutengu, MUWRP, on engaging men who have sex with men in HIV Research
Philomena Kamya on immunity and disease progression in HIV