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HIV Research for Prevention Conference Features Advances in Vaccines, Microbicides, PrEP


The first HIV Research for Prevention -- or HIV R4P -- conference takes place this week in Cape Town, bringing together more than 1300 leading researchers, policymakers, and advocates working on interventions such as HIV vaccines, microbicides, antiretroviral treatment as prevention (TasP), and new forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The conference incorporates the previously separate HIV vaccine and microbicide meetings as biomedical prevention technologies have converged.

Below is an edited excerpt from an HIV R4P press release describing some of the meeting highlights. will feature conference coverage, produced in collaboration with Aidsmap, starting later this week.

Advances in Vaccines, Microbicides and Long-Lasting Injectables to Prevent HIV Featured on the Opening Day of HIV Research for Prevention (HIV R4P)

Cape Town Hosts the First Global Scientific Conference Dedicated Exclusively to HIV Prevention

October 28, 2014 -- Cape Town, South Africa -- Researchers, health advocates, and policy makers from around the world will focus their attention this week on Cape Town, South Africa, as HIV Research for Prevention (HIV R4P) opens today at the Cape Town International Conference Center. Approximately 1,300 leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS will participate in the four-day conference, the first global scientific meeting focused exclusively on biomedical HIV prevention.

"HIV R4P will showcase state-of-the-art efforts to slow and halt this epidemic from around the world," noted Lynn Morris of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Johannesburg. "While HIV R4P is a truly global conference, research from African scientists will play a particularly significant role at this meeting."

The conference opening plenary, "State of the Art: Biomedical Prevention in 2014," sets the tone for this historic meeting with an overview of most significant research progress in efforts to slow and one day end the global AIDS epidemic. South African Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor will keynote a program that includes:

Lynn Morrisof NICD (South Africa) presenting on Prospects for an Antibody-based HIV Vaccine. Morris will discuss the recent discoveries of broad and potent neutralizing antibodies against HIV that are bolstering efforts to develop an HIV vaccine.

Jared Baetenof the University of Washington (U.S.) addressing Advances in Antiretroviral-based Prevention Research, including groundbreaking new approaches such as using antiretroviral treatment (ART) to reduce the infectiousness of HIV-infected persons and the use of oral, topical, and injectable ART pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.

Anthony Fauciof the U.S. National Institutes of Health, speaking by video on Comprehensive HIV Prevention, addresses the potential synergies between HIV vaccines and other proven and emerging forms of prevention, the opportunities to use new prevention methods in combination and the challenges of making new prevention tools available to the millions of people worldwide who need them.

Research highlights from across the spectrum of biomedical HIV prevention research -- including microbicides, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and vaccines -- are featured on the HIV R4P opening press conference program today. Among those highlights:

Ian McGowanof the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (U.S.) presents A Phase 1 Open Label Safety, Acceptability, Pharmacokinetic, and Pharmacodynamic Study of Intramuscular TMC278 LA (the MWRI-01 study). That analysis in 36 women and men found that the long-acting antiretroviral drug, TMC278, was safe and well-tolerated, and provides the potential for protection against HIV infection. Multiple dosing studies of this promising, long-acting approach to HIV protection are now planned.

A second study of the potential of injectable drugs to provide more durable protection against HIV infection is being presented here by William Spreen of GlaxoSmithKline (U.S.). HIV PrEP Dose Rationale for Cabotegravir (GSK1265744) Long-Acting Injectable Nanosuspension indicated that a quarterly injection of the long-acting integrase inhibitor cabotegravir in macaques was safe and provided a level of drug that is predicted to provide robust protection against HIV infection. Ongoing animal studies are a precursor to possible future human study of this new approach to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The potential of microbicides containing HIV antiretroviral drugs to prevent infection with herpes simple virus (HSV2) is explored in Association of Tenofovir (TFV) Detection with Reduced Risk of Herpes Simplex Virus type-2 (HSV-2) Acquisition in the VOICE (MTN 003) Study, presented by Jeanne Marazzo of the University of Washington (U.S.). The analysis of VOICE, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral and vaginal tenofovir for HIV-1 pre-exposure prophylaxis, found that women who used tenofovir gel had a reduced risk for HSV-2 infection. HSV-2 is a common infection in sub-Saharan Africa, which increases the risk of HIV transmission and acquisition.

Turning to HIV vaccines, a study of the RV144 HIV vaccine in South Africans is being presented by Glenda Gray of the South African Medical Research Council. RV144 was the first HIV vaccine to demonstrate a modest level of protection against infection when it was studied in volunteers in Thailand. The research presented here today, HVTN 097: Evaluation of the RV144 Vaccine Regimen in HIV-uninfected South African Adults, is the first to report on the impact of the vaccine in other populations. The study found that the vaccine regimen produced immune responses in South African volunteers that were at least comparable to or better than those induced in the Thai study -- promising news in the effort to develop a globally effective HIV vaccine.

"The advances in vaccine, PrEP, and microbicide research presented today at HIV R4P confirm that we have entered one of the most rewarding, and challenging, phases of HIV prevention research since the epidemic began," said HIV R4P co-chair Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "The interactive, interdisciplinary nature of this meeting in particular provides an exceptional opportunity to discuss what many believe will be the most effective approach to slowing the global epidemic -- the use of new and emerging prevention modalities in combination."

HIV R4P continues through Friday, 31 October. The schedule of daily HIV R4P press conferences, and dial-in information to hear those press conferences live, is available here. The conference scientific program is available here. On-site media registration is available for South Africa-based journalists. All R4P plenary, symposia, roundtables and oral abstract sessions will be available via webcast on within 24 hours of conference presentation. News from HIV R4P will also be available through the HIV R4P Facebook page and the Twitter hashtag #HIVR4P.

About HIV R4P

HIV R4P is the world's first and only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention research. Through both abstract and non-abstract driven sessions, the conference will support cross-fertilization between research on HIV vaccines, microbicides, PrEP, treatment as prevention and other biomedical prevention approaches, while also providing a venue to discuss the research findings, questions and priorities that are specific to advancing each modality. Conference partners include the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Government of Canada; CONRAD; Crucell; the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation; Gilead Sciences; GlaxoSmithKline; the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative; the International Partnership for Microbicides; the Medical Research Council; the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases at the NIH; the NIH Office of AIDS Research; PEPFAR; Sanofi Pasteur; UNAIDS; USAID; ViiV Healthcare; and the Wellcome Trust. Significant in-kind support was provided by AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention; Emory University; Imperial College, London; Medical Research Council/UVRI Uganda Research Unit on AIDS; University of Pittsburgh and the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute of the University of the Witwatersrand.



HIV R4P. Advances in Vaccines, Microbicides and Long-Lasting Injectables to Prevent HIV Featured on the Opening Day of HIV Research for Prevention (HIV R4P). Press release. October 28, 2014.