The first full day of the International AIDS Conference started with the introduction of this year’s recipients of grants for investigators new to the HIV field. Funded by the NIH Office of AIDS Research and the International AIDS Society and managed by the NIH-funded Centers for AIDS Research — including ours at the University of California, San Francisco — the Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research (CNIHR) recipients are some of the most promising young scientists from the entire world. Each year, 10-12 are selected in an extremely rigorous competition and provided with individual mentoring and travel to the conference. Their introduction was followed by a plenary session with lectures on the current epidemiology of HIV, the importance of including the voices of HIV-infected persons in addressing the epidemic and a review of HIV cure research.
The conference is a large, complex, sprawling affair with concurrent sessions covering all aspects of the HIV epidemic. Some sessions feature new research results, others discuss human rights and advocacy approaches, and others summarize the economics of the global response. And that’s just the start.
Sessions I attended included the funding of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, and the Global Fund; new results of HCV treatment clinical trials; and a mentoring meeting for CNIHR recipients introducing them to plenary speakers, including Steve Deeks, MD, and Brigitte Autran, MD, PhD. The day ended with a rehearsal for a Wednesday program introducing the new IAS-USA HIV treatment guidelines published this week in JAMA.
The mood was still subdued after the deaths on the Malaysia Airlines flight but most appreciate that the best way to honor the dead is to carry on with research to control the epidemic.