HIV prevention at CROI 2013

28 March 2013
Alexandra Hyde

The 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) was held in Seattle, USA last month. It included a strong focus on HIV prevention and yielded some useful discussions about the future of HIV research.

Some of the findings emerging out of the conference are summarised below by Jared Baeten, MD PhD and Connie Celum, MD MPH, University of Washington.

The end of AIDS?

A central plenary session included a talk by Francois Dabis entitled "Reality check: is the end of AIDS in sight?" This plenary (available online here) flagged up the need for a measured approach to the remaining issues in HIV research, and offered a range of insights into future directions in the field.

“The past year has seen tremendous enthusiasm, in many ways rightly-placed but sometimes hyperbole, regarding whether exciting new HIV prevention strategies, most prominently antiretroviral treatment but also advances in pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), microbicides, HIV testing, and in implementation of male circumcision and behaviour change, might signal a radical change in the global epidemic.” 

Focusing on prevention

The conference included a strong focus on prevention, including presentations (available online here) on PrEP, microbicides, testing, and risk factors for HIV in highest-risk settings.

“A major focus of the last three meetings of CROI has been sorting out the findings of different randomized clinical trials of PrEP for HIV prevention. In PrEP, an HIV-uninfected person uses an antiretroviral medication ahead of an HIV exposure in order to prevent infection. Multiple trials of PrEP were initiated in the mid-/late 2000s and a steady stream of sometimes-conflicting results has been a challenge for the field.”

Read the full report from CROI here. Multiple oral sessions were recorded and are available here.