The President has committed the Federal government to implementing a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) that is “grounded in the best science.” Scientific research efforts have greatly expanded our understanding of HIV/AIDS and produced a large number of critical tools and interventions to help us diagnose, prevent, and treat HIV. The past year has been particularly productive with impressive scientific advances in microbicides and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), among others.
But our knowledge of this deadly disease remains incomplete and both a cure and a vaccine are, for the time being, elusive. Simply stated, we cannot achieve the vision of the NHAS without continued and sustained progress in biomedical, behavioral, and social science. Reducing new infections will require additional research to identify and evaluate new prevention strategies as well as population-specific information on the most effective combination of approaches to prevent new HIV infections. Improving health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS requires continued investments in research to develop safer, cheaper, and more effective treatments as well as ongoing research to find a cure. Additional research is also needed to better understand, prevent, and treat co-infections, co-occurring conditions, and complications of HIV disease. Nor can we afford to neglect the policy, operational and social questions that often arise as a result of new research findings—these, too, require thoughtful inquiry and study.
To learn more about rapidly evolving HIV/AIDS research, I will be attending —along with a number of other Federal colleagues—the 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI ) in Boston, Massachusetts beginning Sunday, February 27. The conference provides a critically important global forum for basic scientists, clinicians, and global health researchers to present, discuss, and critique their investigations into the epidemiology and biology of human retroviruses and the diseases they produce with the ultimate goal of translating laboratory and clinical research into progress against the AIDS epidemic—at home and abroad. At the CROI a diverse community of some 4,000 scientific experts, providers, and community leaders will interact with one another and share information and perspectives about recent scientific and technical advances in HIV/AIDS.
I hope you will have an opportunity to read this blog next week, as I look forward to sharing important information with you from the conference. In addition, CROI will be making all conference sessions available as webcasts and podcast on the CROI website approximately 8 hours after the conclusion of each session. See the CROI pocket program for a complete listing of the plenaries, symposia, scientific overviews, oral abstract sessions and themed discussions.