amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

AIDS 2014: Stepping Up the Pace

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The 20th International AIDS Conference took place in Melbourne, Australia, July 20–25, 2014. amfAR grantee Dr. Sharon Lewin of Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Melbourne, co-chaired the conference with International AIDS Society (IAS) President and co-discoverer of HIV, Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.

The theme of this year’s conference, Stepping up the Pace, reflected the opportunity that AIDS 2014 presented for mobilizing stakeholders from around the world and building the momentum necessary to change the course of the epidemic. 

Among the distinguished plenary speakers were Dr. David Cooper of the University of New South Wales, a Steering Committee member for amfAR’s TREAT Asia program; Dr. Jintanat Ananworanich, an amfAR grantee and former principal investigator for TREAT Asia who was recently appointed Associate Director of HIV Therapeutic Trials at the US Military HIV Research Program in Maryland; and Dr. Kenneth Mayer, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-chair of the Fenway Institute in Boston, and a member of amfAR’s Program Advisory Board.

President Bill Clinton, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé, and musician and activist Sir Bob Geldof were also among the high-level speakers who joined thousands of the world’s top AIDS researchers, community leaders, people living with HIV, and policy-makers at this year’s conference.

 

Conference highlights:
 

July 25:

  • chris conference Dr. Chris Beyrer, professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, became the acting president of the International AIDS Society (IAS) during the conference closing session. He said, “I am the first openly gay person to lead the IAS, and as a man who buried too many friends and lovers before we had effective treatment, let me pledge that inclusion for all who need and want HIV services will be a fundamental focus of my leadership.”



  • As the conference wound down, amfAR Vice President and Director of Research Dr. Rowena Johnston sat down with Dr. Ole Søgaard to discuss his breakthrough cure research and with Dr. Deborah Persaud to discuss the recent viral rebound in the Mississippi child, who had been off antiretroviral therapy for more than two years without evidence of HIV.

     

         

     

July 24:

  • Sohn conferenceamfAR’s Dr. Annette Sohn participated in a press conference announcing ViiV Healthcare’s new £1.5 million grant supporting the International AIDS Society’s Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education (CIPHER)—a program dedicated to facilitating global research collaboration to improve HIV care for children and adolescents



  • Bob Geldof AIDSMusician and activist Bob Geldof praised the ingenuity that has brought the world so far in the fight against AIDS, but said it was “disgraceful” that wealthy nations would not provide the funding to bring us the last mile and end the epidemic, during a session called “A Conversation with Sir Bob Geldof: HIV and Poverty – the Challenges Ahead.”



July 23:

  • conf22.jpgThe GMT Initiative launched its Lessons From the Front Lines: Trans Health and Rights report, produced in collaboration with Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE). The report profiles ten GMT Initiative grantee organizations, many of which are led by trans individuals and are pioneers in working with the trans community in their respective countries.



  • Bill Clinton HIV AIDSDuring his plenary speech, President Bill Clinton stated that scaling up access to antiretroviral therapy, especially among women and children, and reducing the stigma and discrimination that often prevent key populations from accessing HIV testing and care are essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation.



  • HIV IS NOT A CRIMEA new report presented Wednesday, titled The Funding Crisis for Harm Reduction, found that international funding for harm reduction programs meets only 7% of what UNAIDS estimates is needed to adequately reach and educate people who inject drugs.



July 22:

  • candles 2Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil in Melbourne’s Federation Square honoring the passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 who were en route to the conference when the plane crashed in Ukraine.



  • protester 2 Sex workers held a peaceful demonstration during Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul's plenary session speech, "Better and Smarter Investments in the HIV Response."



  • olePhoto: Cec BusbyamfAR-supported Danish scientist Dr. Ole Søgaard reported that his team had successfully used the anti-cancer drug romidepsin to activate latent HIV reservoirs hiding in the CD4 cells of HIV-positive patients taking antiretroviral therapy. It is the inability to activate and then eradicate these reservoirs that has made HIV so difficult to cure.



 

July 21:

  • ben-aids-2014a.png Simon Cazal, executive director of SOMOSGAY in Paraguay, and other amfAR GMT Initiative grantee partners participated in the Global Village discussion panel, "Evidence in Action: Creating Evidence-Based Programming for Men who have Sex with Men and Transgender People," chaired by amfAR’s Benjamin Clapham.

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  • pressa.pngSix amfAR-funded researchers, Dr. Sharon Lewin, Dr. Deborah Persaud, Dr. Dan Barouch, Dr. Ole Søgaard, Dr. Nicolas Chomont, and Dr. Steven Deeks, sat on a seven-member panel discussing the latest breakthroughs in HIV vaccine and cure research during the "Towards a Cure" press conference.


  • award-winner-photo.jpg

    During the "Where Are Now?" plenary session, Dr. Paul Semugoma received the 2014 Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award for his work combating anti-homosexuality laws and  HIV in Uganda. The award was co-sponsored by amfAR, the International AIDS Society and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
     

July 20:

  • moment of silence

    During the opening session of the conference, delegates stood for a minute of silence to pay tribute to the passengers on downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 who were traveling to Melbourne to attend the conference, including former IAS President Dr. Joep Lange.  


     

July 19:

  • blog cure logo

    During the “Towards an HIV Cure” symposium, TREAT Asia Steering Committee member Dr. David Cooper reported that two HIV-positive Australian bone-marrow recipients have had no detectable virus for more than three years. They have also remained on antiretroviral therapy throughout this time period.


     

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