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National HIV Prevention Conference highlights progress and disparities
Liz Highleyman, 2015-12-09 13:50:00
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), integration of
prevention and treatment services, and initiatives to reach heavily affected
but underserved groups are among the highlights of the 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference taking place this
week in Atlanta. While the latest US epidemiological data show that HIV
infections are on the decline overall, significant disparities have kept some
groups from taking full advantage of recent prevention advances.
The conference, organised by the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), brings together more than 3000 public
health experts, medical providers, front-line prevention workers and people
living with HIV to discuss the latest advances in HIV prevention science and
In his opening plenary talk on
Sunday, Eugene McCray, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS
Prevention, presented new data
showing that HIV diagnoses have declined by 19% overall during the past decade, and that even
the group with the highest incidence rate – black gay and bisexual men – has
seen new diagnoses level off in the past few years.
disparities continue to hamper response to the HIV epidemic, largely related to
socioeconomic status, geographical location, and stigma and discrimination.
"It is the best of times and the worst of
times," said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and
TB Prevention, who opened the conference on Sunday and gave a plenary
talk on Monday about the CDC's high-impact HIV prevention initiative.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
also spoke at the opening session, offering an overview of the science
underlying biomedical HIV prevention. Fauci highlighted
the SMART and START trials, which demonstrated
that beginning antiretroviral therapy soon after HIV diagnosis protects the
health of people living with HIV; HPTN
052, which showed that prompt treatment dramatically lowers the risk of HIV
transmission; and the growing body of evidence showing that Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) PrEP
works if taken regularly.
science has spoken," Fauci concluded. "There can now be no excuse for