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Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) & National Institute of Health (NIH), Bethesda, USA, presented an excellent keynote lecture on ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
He started by taking us through a timeline of HIV infection. Starting in the 1980s, when the mean life expectancy of a newly diagnosed 20 year old (not on ART) was ~12 years. We followed the science through time and today, over 35 years later, the mean life expectancy of a newly diagnosed 20 year old (on ART) is ~53 years.
What we've learned since the 1980's regarding the etiology, virology, pathogenesis, treatment and prevention have given us a better understanding on how all these advances should continue to be used in conjunction in order to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
We've discussed treatment as prevention (TasP) and looked at a traid of pivotal ART studies regarding the treatment of individuals with HIV infection:
- The SMART study showed that episodic ART is inferior to continuous ART
- The HPTN 052 study showed that early ART reduces HIV transmission to uninfected sexual partners by 93%
- The START study showed that early ART reduces serious illness or death by 57%
We are all aware of the continuum of care when our patients have a positive HIV test results, but we should also be very proactive in the continuum of prevention in those who test negative.
Despite our 90/90/90 targets, the numbers of newly diagnosed HIV infection have plateaued globally since 2009.
Continuing to improve access to ART and HIV prevention strategies, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could dramatically decrease HIV-related deaths and the rate of new HIV infections.
The efficacy of PrEP has been proven in multiple studies and most recently the San Francisco Strut PrEP program showed no new HIV infections in >1200 men on PrEP in nurse-lead intervention over nearly 1.5 years. There were 82 new infection at that clinic among men not enrolled in the PrEP program.
The two main remaining scientific challenges for HIV identified are:
- Addressing HIV persistence
- eradicate the reservoir - classic "cure"
- control viral rebound - sustained virologic remission
- Development of a safe and effective preventative HIV vaccine
Towards a HIV vaccine:
- The first signal of efficacy (31%) in a HIV vaccine clinical trail - RV144, was seen in: Vaccination with ALVAC and AIDSVAX to prevent HIV-1 infection in Thailand. S Rerks-Ngarm, et al. For the MOPH-TAVEG investigators. N Engl J Med 2009; 361:2209-2220. Dec 3, 2009
- Additional work since this study has lead to a large-scale HIV vaccine trial that will launch in November 2016 in South Africa: HVTN 702 modifeid RV144 prime-boost regime
- More work is also being done on Neutrolising Monoclonal Antibodies, discovered since 2009.
Treatment + non-vaccine prevention + vaccine = durable end of the HIV/AIDS pandemic