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HIV cure takes a centre stage at AIDS Conference

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th July 2016 03:46 PM

According to World Health Organisation 36.7 million people living with HIV are eligible for ART, but only 17 million are able to access treatment

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The Co-chair of the 21st International AIDS Society (AIS) Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi , Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health andProfessor Sharon Lewin the director of The Doherty Institute for infection and immunity at University of Melbourne addressing the media during the Towards an HIV Cure press conference at Durban International Conference Center

According to World Health Organisation 36.7 million people living with HIV are eligible for ART, but only 17 million are able to access treatment

Community living and affected by HIV must be engaged in in research of the world is to find a cure for HIV.

According to World Health Organisation 36.7 million people living with HIV are eligible for ART, but only 17 million are able to access treatment.

 The Co-chair of the 21st International AIDS Society (AIS) Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi said   the search for curative strategy of HIV is a goal of paramount importance and a priority for the future of HIV research.

Over  18,000 scientists, policymakers, advocates and people living with HIV  are meeting in  Durban International Convention Centre, South Africa to discuss the prospect of developing safe, effective, and globally scalable approaches to curing or achieving sustained remission of HIV infection.

Barré-Sinoussi said research to achieve such cures is in a formative stage, but significant advances are being made towards and HIV Cure.

 “HIV cure research has the potential to alter the future of this epidemic. With 37 million people currently living with HIV worldwide, and another 2 million newly infected each year, an effective approach to curing or achieving sustained remission of HIV infection would be a ground-breaking advance in global health,” she said.

The  AIS President Chris Beyrer  is  optimism that a cure or sustainable remission for HIV is feasible if  HIV more focused one cure research , marked by significant advances in understanding of the scientific challenges and opportunities are up scaled.

“HIV cure research has come into its own as expanding multi-disciplinary field of inquiry, growing scientific interest, the increasing numbers of promising scientific approaches towards a cure and a growing sense that a cure or sustainable remission for HIV is feasible,” Beyrer said.

Trail in monkeys

Professor Sharon Lewin the director of The Doherty Institute for infection and immunity at University of Melbourne said they are studying HIV reservoirs and of latency, which is a process by which HIV infection remains in the body despite the use of antiretroviral therapy.

 She said the studies will form clinical evidence that sustained, albeit temporary, period of aviremia in HIV infected people can be achieved. 

She mentioned that they are neutralising antibodies to be used in a combination approaches to HIV cure and prove the safety and potential efficacy of noval strategies  in gene therapy toward HIV remission or cure.

“Gene edited cells traffic to viral reservoir tissues and undergo SHIV-dependent positive selection in nonhuman primates produced promising results from  monkey tool like receptor  TLR7-Agonist , show promise in monkey in stimulating and eliminating latent virus,” she said.

Community involvement

Damian Kelly of the European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG)   said that advocacy and community engagement plays a lead role in keeping research institutions, policy makers, and funders focused on the need for an HIV cure.

“HIV community engagement is also key both to informing patients and preparing them for participation in HIV cure studies, and to informing researchers and trial designers on the needs of study volunteers, who contribute so much to the search for an HIV cure,” he said.

Moses Nsubuga from Uganda who has lived with HIV for 21 years asked the researchers to empower community living with HIV through knowledge dissemination, capacities building in order present their interests and participant knowledgeably in HIV cure research.

“Strengthen community engagement in HIV cure research efforts especially in public awareness and ethical trial design  to ensure a successful implementation of the search. We are all looking for the cure so that we stop medication,” Nsubuga said.

 Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health asked donors not to take away funding from prevention and treatment saying it will have a negative impact on people’s lives.

“The presence of cure in the global response should not direct funding away from treatment, prevention and care programme .It is important that donors, governments and AIDS community make viable and sustainable economic investment in HIV  cure research,” he said.

The money invested in the HIV cure

A new analysis by the IAS HIV Cure resource tracking group and AVAC shows that global investments in HIV cure funding have more than doubled in the past four years.

 In 2015, an estimated US$201.8 million was invested in cure research, representing an increase of 25% over the US$160.8 million invested in 2014, and an increase of 129% over the US$88.1 million invested in 2012.

The majority of investments (US$187.7 million) came from the public sector with US$14.73 million invested by philanthropies such as amfAR, CANFAR, Fair Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wellcome Trust.

 In 2015, the United States, through the U.S. National Institutes of Health, contributed the majority of public funding, with France, the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Australia also being significant contributors to HIV cure research.

Founded in 1988, the International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries. IAS members work on all fronts of the global response to AIDS and include researchers, clinicians, policy and programme planners, and public health and community practitioners.

 

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