While at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) this week in Seattle, Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Douglas Brooks, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP).
Amidst presentations on the latest advances in HIV science from around the world, they discussed the important role that science plays in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and plans for updating the Strategy beyond 2015.
Both Dr. Valdiserri and Director Brooks noted that in 2010 President Obama called for a National HIV/AIDS Strategy “grounded in the best science,” and Mr. Brooks observed that science continues to lead our efforts to achieve the Strategy’s goals.
Remarking on some of the scientific findings shared at the conference so far, Mr. Brooks observed that presentations on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) have underscored its potential to be a game-changing tool in our effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation. He observed that the PrEP findings presented at the conference so far have been “both exciting and disappointing.” The excitement arises from additional findings regarding the effectiveness of PrEP among men who have sex with men, specifically from the IPERGAY study of “on-demand” dosing, while the disappointing results from findings reported from the FACTS001 trial of a vaginal gel formulation of PrEP, that did not demonstrate a reduction in HIV infections due to adherence and other challenges. The latter, he remarked, underscores the importance of continuing to pursue novel technologies to benefit women around the world and at home.
With regard to plans for updating the NHAS, Director Brooks explains that there is general agreement that the Strategy’s goals are the right ones and that the focus in the months ahead will be around conversations with federal and community stakeholders about how we can continue to move forward.