Recent findings from UNAIDS* showing dramatic reductions in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2012 have encouraged optimism that it might be possible to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, despite falling rates of new infections and increasing access to antiretroviral drugs in low- and middle-income countries, 1·6 million people worldwide died from HIV in 2012, and 35·3 million continue to live with the disease. On the heels of the UNAIDs report, Cell and The Lancet--leading journals in biology and medicine --are holding a unique conference to address the key question: What will it take to achieve an AIDS-free world?
The conference, to be held in San Francisco, CA, USA, on November 3-5, is designed to bridge the gap between clinicians and researchers focused on understanding, managing, preventing, and curing HIV/AIDS.
The programme brings together world-renowned speakers with a broad range of expertise across the interlocking fields of HIV research and clinical practice, including: Eric Goosby, head of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health; David Baltimore, Professor of Biology, California Institute of Technology, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize for discoveries on the interaction between tumour viruses and the genetic material of the cell; Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of HIV; Stephen Becker, Deputy Director in HIV at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Timothy Brown (the "Berlin patient"), the first person to be cured of HIV.
Setting the conference in San Francisco reflects the fact that in the early 1980s the city was one of the first places where the condition we now call AIDS was diagnosed, and it continues to be a leading centre of research on HIV/AIDS. California is among the states with the highest rate of adults and adolescents living with HIV (363 per 100000 population) and newly diagnosed with HIV (19•2 per 100,000 population), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The scientific advisors for the conference are Robert Siliciano, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA, and Kenneth Mayer, Fenway Institute, Boston, MA, USA. Commenting on his involvement with the conference, Dr Mayer said: "This Cell-Lancet symposium comes at a unique point in the 30+ years of the AIDS epidemic. Recent research has demonstrated that antiretrovirals can decrease HIV transmission, but many implementation science questions remain. Other recent efforts have provided glimmers of hope for the development of safe and effective preventive vaccines and/or cures for HIV."
"This meeting will provide an unprecedented opportunity to hear from the investigators and thought leaders that are leading the charge to turn the tide on the epidemic. The format will allow for cogent plenary talks and many opportunities to talk with key scientists, clinical investigators, and public health officials".
NOTES TO EDITORS:
* At the end of September, UNAIDS--the UN agency responsible for coordinating the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic--announced in its annual report that 2•3 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2012, a 33% reduction in new infections since 2001. See the report for further information.