Thursday, February 12, 2009

CROI 2009

Last night, I returned from a long but fascinating trip to balmy Montreal for the 2009 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). 

Scientific highlights for me included promising new data showing that intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis with an AIDS drug may prevent new infections, a major advance in a topical microbicide that may be 30% efficacious in preventing HIV infection in women, and evidence that early treatment with AIDS drugs improves greatly survival. There was also great news about the promise of home-based HIV testing in rural Uganda, made possible by teams of providers visiting communities by motorbike. 

Not all of the news was encouraging, such as the large proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV infection in the U.S., the existence of mysterious reservoirs where the virus hides from drugs, and news that 40% or more of newborns in Botswana who acquire HIV infection did so from mothers who themselves got infected during pregnancy or in the first post-partum term -- when they are most likely to breast-feed. 

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