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AIDS 2016: International AIDS Conference Starts Next Week in Durban

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The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) opens next Monday, July 18, in Durban, South Africa, 16 years after the groundbreaking conference in the same city that put the spotlight on global access to new life-saving treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS. This year's theme -- Access, Equity, Rights Now -- recognizes the barriers that still need to be overcometo achieve universal access. HIVandHepatitis.comand collaborator Aidsmap.comwill provide on-site coverage starting on July 17. Follow @HIVandHepatitison Twitter and visit our AIDS 2016 conference page (coming soon) or Facebook pagefor the latest news.

Effective combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) debuted in the mid-1990s -- as heralded at the 11th International AIDS Conference in Vancouver in 1996 -- but it took years before treatment became widely available in the low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa, that have the highest burden of AIDS.

UNAIDS recently announced that an estimated 17 million people with HIV were receiving ART at the end of 2015, representing just under half of all those who could benefit from treatment.

The International AIDS Society (IAS) conference in 2011 heralded evidence that ART "treatment-as-prevention" and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) can dramatically reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission. Last year's IAS conference returned to Vancouver, with results from the START study showing the benefits of early treatment for everyone living with HIV, regardless of CD4 T-cell count.

This year's conference, to be held at the Durban International Convention Centre, is expected to draw more than 18,000 delegates from around the world. The program will feature some 2000 scientific abstracts highlighting developments in antiretroviral therapy and treatment strategies, management of HIV-related complications and co-morbidities -- including viral hepatitis and tuberculosis -- HIV functional cure research, and biomedical prevention.

There will be a renewed focus on access to prevention and treatment and the human rights of people living with and at risk for HIV, especially key affected populations including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs. Many sessions will look at how to translate the HIV prevention and treatment breakthroughs demonstrated in clinical trials into widespread practice for diverse populations.

Running concurrently with the scientific sessions, the Global Village and Youth Pavilion will feature a free program of educational forums, cultural events, and networking opportunities, highlighting the work of community-based organizations.

On July 18, the opening day of the conference, global AIDS activists will hold a march to demand access to quality, comprehensive treatment for all people living with HIV, increased funding for the global AIDS response, and an end to discrimination against and criminalization of key populations.

In advance of the conference IAS has release the Second Durban Declaration, highlighting 5 key scientific advances made to date and 5 key structural barriers yet to be overcome. Supporters are encouraged to sign on to the statement.

AIDS 2016 features an expanded pre-conference program including the IAS Towards an HIV Cure Symposium, the 3rd International HIV/Viral Hepatitis Co-Infection Meeting, the 2-day TB 2016 conference, the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) pre-conference meeting, a meeting of the Global Network of Transgender Women and HIV, and the Global Network of People Living with HIV's LIVING 2016: The Positive Leadership Summit.

"The biennial International AIDS Conference truly is the premier meeting where science, leadership and community meet for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV," conference co-chairs IAS president Chris Beyrer of Johns Hopkins and Olive Shisana of the South African Human Sciences Research Council wrote in their welcoming message. "Together we will share best practices, learn from one another’s experience and develop new strategies and collaborations."

The full AIDS 2016 conference program is available online. Abstracts will be posted as they are released from embargo and selected sessions will be webcast throughout the conference. Follow conference news on Twitter with hashtag #AIDS2016.

7/5/14

Source

21st International AIDS Conference. Durban, July 18-22, 2016. www.aids2016.org.