As the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle came to a close on Thursday, February 26, we spoke again with Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, Director of the Division of AIDS at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) about a highlight from the day’s presentations as well as his reflections as the meeting concluded.
Cardiovascular Disease among PLWH
The discussion of the research agenda regarding cardiovascular disease (CVD) among people living with HIV (PLWH) was the highlight of the final day of the conference, according to Dr. Dieffenbach. A plenary session, Cardiovascular Disease in HIV Patients: An Emerging Paradigm and Call to Action , led by Dr. Steven Grinspoon of Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital discussed the fact that cardiovascular disease is an important noninfectious co-morbidity of HIV for which PLWH may be at heightened risk compared to their peers without HIV. Dr. Grinspoon underscored the need for treatment options to prevent cardiovascular disease and discussed investigations underway into possible approaches, including the use of statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol levels), which may offer a number of other benefits to lowering CVD risk among PLWH. Dr. Dieffenbach observed that NIAID, in partnership with NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, will soon be launching the REPRIEVE Study to evaluate the use of a particular drug to reduce the risk of CVD in adults infected with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy.
Key Conference Take-Aways
Reflecting on the some of the key themes of the conference overall, Dr. Dieffenbach highlighted two take-ways for all of us:
- Better use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)—Several conference presentations offering ideas on PrEP rollout, use, uptake, and adherence offer useful insights and strategies for consideration.
- Continued efforts to improve the HIV care continuum—The need for all of us to continue efforts to find undiagnosed individuals and improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum was underscored, he observed, by the data shared by CDC this week. A new CDC analysis found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. could be averted by diagnosing people living with HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment, reinforcing the importance of HIV testing and treatment for protecting the health of people living with HIV and preventing transmission to others.
Our charge – those of us who attended and even those who weren’t able to attend the conference – Dr. Dieffenbach concluded, is to figure out how best to make use of the tools and information shared at CROI 2015 to help end the HIV epidemic.
Watch next week for our interview with Dr. Dieffenbach’s colleague Dr. Peter Kim who spoke with us about TB research highlights coming out of the conference as well as other interviews we conducted at the conference with federal colleagues.