Early programme preview

IAS 2021 programme preview

Take a first look at some of the programme highlights to expect at IAS 2021 – the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science – this July. Featuring a broad range of sessions developed by an international committee of HIV scientists, leaders, policy makers, researchers and advocates, the programme will explore the most pressing topics in HIV.

Track A: Basic science

HIV reservoir regulation and cure

Forty years since the discovery of HIV, a safe and effective cure that can be scaled up remains a distant goal. This session will provide updates on the regulation of HIV reservoirs and latency. It will also expand on current understanding of the sources of rebound viruses and on the cellular and viral determinants of the rebound after ATI.

Gender and population diversity in control of HIV

While socioeconomic factors play a role in HIV acquisition, biological markers can influence how we respond to HIV. Participants will discuss how biological sex and ethnicity influence the host response to HIV and whether or not we have enough data on the regulation of HIV in women. There are still many unknowns and this session will probe what we can learn from genomic studies for HIV cure and vaccine research.

Inflammation and tissue damage: Causes and repair mechanisms

The underlying mechanisms of inflammation are still a matter of debate. Tissue damage can occur early, especially when ART is initiated in the chronic stage. Inflammation persists in long-term treated people living with HIV. Participants will explore these topics and discuss if there are better strategies to repair HIV-associated inflammation and tissue damage.

In it together: Co-infections in people living with HIV

As we continue to make great strides in HIV treatment, many questions must still be addressed on treating co-infections in people living with HIV. Research into HIV and co-infections must be intensified, particularly as more people are ageing with HIV, which is when more co-infections might occur. A greater understanding of the immunological modification in co-infected individuals is needed. This session will look at these issues at the molecular level and improve our understanding of how they can be addressed.

Track B: Clinical science

The pièce de résistance: HIV and STIs

With rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) rising and an increase in drug-resistant STIs, more attention must be placed on approaches to testing and treating STIs. Delegates will consider what we can learn from HIV treatment to apply to STI drug resistance, as well as how we can effectively manage STI drug resistance.

TB and HIV: Advances in diagnostics and treatment

This session will look at the interplays between HIV and TB, providing an overview of the current state of the HIV and TB syndemic. Participants will also consider novel drug combinations, as well as diagnostics and the response to drug-resistant TB.

When HIV or ART hits you early: Children born to HIV mothers living with HIV

As the HIV epidemic has matured, notable progress has been made in reducing infant HIV acquisition. Yet children who are HIV-exposed and uninfected experience higher risk of poorer health and developmental outcomes than children born to women who are not living with HIV. This session will investigate paediatric HIV therapy, intrauterine ART exposure and its consequences, and the lifelong impact on adults born with HIV.

ART today and tomorrow

By June 2020, 26 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy out of an estimated 38 million living with HIV. In this session, we will explore novel drugs in the pipeline to address the global demand and assess whether ART can help achieve the 90-90-90 targets.

Track C: Prevention science

Intravaginal options, today and in the future

HIV prevention methods are evolving rapidly, particularly for women at increased vulnerability to HIV acquisition. This session will explore the options for intravaginal ring products, the relevant regulatory approvals that exist for them, and what the next generation of intravaginal products will offer.

Build it: But will they come? Prevention efficacy versus population effectiveness

Critical to the success of any prevention intervention is community uptake. Trust has to be built among service users to ensure that proposed interventions are effective for the people they are intended to serve. This session will discuss how we can better prepare for the delivery of effective prevention interventions and how communities can contribute to ensuring their success.

Track D: Social, behavioural and implementation science

Integrated and differentiated service delivery in the era of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic provides critical opportunities for the integration of care and differentiated service delivery. In this session, new models and innovations integrating prevention and treatment care for key and vulnerable populations will be reviewed. The models will address the factors at play between clients and providers, as well as external factors, including funders and delivery systems, that have an impact on sustainability.

Bridging sessions

COVID-19 and HIV: Managing overlapping pandemics

Disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are threatening gains made in the HIV response. This session will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the HIV care continuum that will likely be felt for many years as other priorities divert attention, expertise and resources. Strategies will be presented for minimizing interruptions in accessing vital HIV treatment and prevention services during the pandemic.

Immunometabolism and HIV pathogenesis

This session will provide an introduction to, and overview of, novel and evolving concepts by which intrinsic immune cellular metabolism and whole-body metabolic status impact metabolic co-morbidities and HIV reservoir persistence. A number of perspectives will be explored, looking at metabolic diseases in people ageing with HIV, immune activation/inflammation and HIV replication, and the role of glycomics in HIV pathogenesis.

From design to delivery: Novel HIV prevention interventions

The HIV prevention toolkit continues to expand. Critical to innovation in HIV prevention is whether interventions can be tailored to the communities they are intended to benefit. This session will explore how to design studies with the end-user in mind, exciting innovations in the development pipeline and how these interventions can be adapted to specific populations.

Silencing stigma

A foremost challenge in the HIV response is eliminating stigma: it remains a major structural barrier to accessing effective prevention and treatment. If we do not actively challenge and end stigma – across regions, populations, ages and genders – we will never end the HIV epidemic. Participants will investigate stigma from multiple perspectives, including across prevention and treatment, while also looking at the role of internalized stigma.

Growing old with HIV: Co-morbidities and ageing

People living with HIV are living longer and healthier lives. With this, comes the interplay between HIV, co-morbidities and age-related illnesses. This session will look at the interactions between immunosenescence and HIV and whether co-morbidities are associated with the host or with HIV.  It will end with a discussion on what matters to people living with HIV regarding co-morbidities and HIV, with emphasis on person-centred care.