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AIDS 2012: Turning the Tide Together

Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., FFPH

Dr. Kevin Fenton

The doors to Washington, D.C. open to the world today with the official start of the XIX International AIDS Conference. For the first time in 22 years, the United States welcomes the world’s largest gathering of professionals working in the field of HIV. This affords us the opportunity to rapidly learn about new developments to increase our effectiveness in our work. Attendees will benefit from the science presented, the partnerships solidified, and the new conversations started that often lead to tomorrow’s next developments.

HIV programmatic advances, such as recent biomedical findings on the effectiveness of HIV treatment as prevention, are changing the way we care for those with HIV and how we prevent further spread of the disease. We look forward to hearing perspectives from our NIH colleagues on investments and progress in AIDS research. Last week’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of medicine for pre-exposure prophylaxis (a combination of 300 milligrams of tenofovir and 200 milligrams of emtricitabine) offers us a new HIV prevention method, albeit approved to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners. In addition, testing advances are helping reduce the window period when HIV is detectable, and expanded testing programs bring those advances to more people on the ground.

All of us working in the field have great hope built on recent progress in science, program, policy and international collaboration. Progress that the conference will bring into focus. We are now talking about the beginning of the end of AIDS—something unimaginable just a few years ago. It will be a privilege to hear presentations from our colleagues from all parts of the globe on their innovative efforts. Attendees will want to be sure to attend one or more of the fascinating sessions focusing on work within specific regions of the world, for example, the Caribbean Exit Disclaimer, Eastern Europe and Central Asia Exit Disclaimer,Latin AmericaExit Disclaimer, a session on USA and CanadaExit Disclaimer, and many more.

In the U.S., the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) in combination with the goal of an AIDS-Free Generation—are making a significant impact. NHAS has provided governments, organizations and communities with a road map to slow the spread of HIV. A key CDC approach in implementing the U.S.’s national strategy is High-Impact Prevention, which prioritizes proven interventions with the greatest potential to prevent new HIV infections. At the conference, we look forward to a discussion of high level leadership Exit Disclaimer in the U.S. on Wednesday, from 1:00-2:00pm, with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and CDC’s Center for Global Health Director Dr. Kevin DeCock.

In closing, we want to thank the conference coordinating committee Exit Disclaimer of the XIX International AIDS Conference for all their hard work in bringing us together. Our collective efforts to continue to raise awareness, fight stigma, find ways to increase health equity, and work toward solutions to obstacles in our prevention efforts are critical. What we accomplish in communities in every corner of the world helps us all move toward a healthier world and collective vision of an AIDS-Free Generation. Once again, it is our pleasure to welcome the top professionals in the field of HIV/AIDS to this important conference.

Note: CDC’s AIDS 2012 website provides more information on the agency’s presentations, activities and the special “Meet the CDC” leaders and experts at the CDC exhibit.