Experts laud progress on treating HIV as conference ends in Mexico



MEXICO CITY, Andrea Sosa Cabrios (dpa)– Important progress is being made in developing treatment and prevention technologies against HIV, experts said at a conference of the International AIDS Society (IAS) in Mexico City.
"Ultimately, the advances we are seeing in science are about giving people living with HIV more choices," IAS president Anton Pozniak said shortly before the closure of the conference, which brought together 5,000 experts from 140 countries, on Wednesday.



"There is a whole lot of good news," said Juergen Rockstroh, president of the European AIDS Clinical Society.
"It is at least theoretically possible to end the HIV epidemic," but that requires political solutions, he told dpa at the start of the conference on Sunday.
Studies released at the conference put the spotlight on "progress that could completely change the HIV prevention landscape," organizers said in a statement.
This includes advancements in oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) delivery, long-acting implants and vaccines, including a potential implantable form of PrEP. A trial found that the implant, which releases the antiretroviral agent MK-8591, was well tolerated and could work for one year.
New drugs and novel treatment regimens also "have the potential to improve long-term tolerability and reduce costs and pill sizes," Pozniak said.
At the opening of the conference, Pozniak warned against the threat that humanitarian crises pose to the treatment of HIV.
"From Syria to Venezuela, the challenge of providing HIV services in humanitarian crises threatens global progress in confronting the epidemic," he said. 
"People in emergency settings are especially vulnerable to new infections. We must work to ensure that HIV prevention and treatment are an integral part of global relief efforts."
Pozniak also said that discriminatory policies of populist conservative governments could work against treatment.
"We live in a world where leadership seems to be becoming more and more conservative, narcissistic, populist," he said, criticizing "leadership that can disregard human rights and use racism, homophobia and ignorance as political currency."
About 1.7 million people worldwide contracted HIV last year, according to the UN programme on HIV and AIDS, UNAIDS. Nearly 38 million people were living with HIV in 2018. Only 62 per cent of them have access to life-saving medication.
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Thursday, July 25th 2019
Andrea Sosa Cabrios (dpa)
           


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