30 years of HIV/AIDS: a scientific journey and a look to the future PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alain Lafeuillade   
Monday, 18 July 2011 00:00

30 years of HIV/AIDS: a scientific journey and a look to the future

IAS-Rome1A summary of and comments on Professor Antony Fauci presentation at the IAS Rome Conference: Monday 18th July 2011: a session dedicated to sum up the evolution of the scientific challenges and accomplishments associated with HIV/AIDS throughout its 30-year history, while looking towards the future.



Antony Fauci gave the first lecture of Monday afternoon. Fauci first reminded us that we are now 30 years after the start of the pandemics. He then summarized the major dates during this "journey", fom discovering HIV, making a diagnostic test available, understanding the replication cycle of the virus and developping antiretroviral therapy. He said that now, when patients are treated early in developped countries they can expect to get a life expectancy close to uninfected people. But even if ARV access has been improved in poor-resource countries, it remains an important problem. Circumcision has been a hudge advance in his view as it protects >60% of persons from acquiring HIV. Early ART is also an important advance as it protects >96% of HIV-infected patients partners. The 2 forthcoming challenges in his opinion are vaccine and cure. Vaccine will have to induce "unnatural immunity" as natural immunity is unable to fight the virus. Neutralizing antibodies arrive to little and too late. Deep sequencing of the B cells, as presented this morning by Gary Nabel, has allowed the selection of more broadly active antibodies and will impact vaccine research. Cure would be the permanent remission in the absence of therapy. We have to discover new classes of drugs able to activate latent HIV but also to work on a "functional" cure, Fauci said. He finally concluded that we already have the tools to decrease the epidemic if we act on implementation and "let science inform the policy", the title of an editorial he has just written for Science.


Francoise Barre-Sinoussi then gave a short address discussing past and future accomplishments in HIV research.  Modestly, she said that we have to look into the future rather than congratulate ourselves for past discoveries. She also wanted to thank patients for their important contribution to the advances made, by taking their part into science, research and trials. Concerning persistence of HIV reservoirs, Barre-Sinoussi said that she is convinced that there is in some cases residual replication on ART, at least in some compartments. She also emphasized the importance of host factors, cellular restrictive factors, innate immunity... She concluded on the need to develop additional models of HIV latency and persistence. She added that more learning will be possible if we mix HIV and non HIV scientists.



Key words: 30 years of HIV, HIV cure, hiv epidemic
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 08:17
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