8th Annual Retrovirus Conference



The 8th Annual Retrovirus Conference is regarded as the most important clinical and basic science conference worldwide about HIV/AIDS. It was held in Chicago, Illinois on February 4-8, 2001. There were 3,446 registrants, including 40% from outside the US, representing 58 countries worldwide. These were mostly physicians and other researchers, but included approximately 140 members of the Press (including Community Press) and 40 full or partial scholarships for community recipients. There were approximately 115 travel grants for graduate students, research fellows and researchers from developing countries. There were a total 815 abstracts, including 136 accepted oral presentations, 38 invited oral presentations and 641 poster presentations. The Conference was sponsored by the Foundation for Retrovirology and Human Health, in scientific collaboration with the NIAID (US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and the CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and co-sponsored with the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine. Various aspects of the Conference were supported by 9 pharmaceutical or diagnostic companies. The abstracts, selected oral presentations and posters are (or will be) available on the internet at, as are the previous 4 Retrovirus Conferences.

Conference highlights include promising refinements and continued progress in developing new therapies and strategies for HIV. Of particular interest were several new drugs for resistant virus, new data on once daily drugs & regimens, and continued development of the new class of therapy called "entry inhibitors". Preliminary research from the NIH pilot study of 7 days on and 7 days off therapy is interesting. New information on low-level viral load rebounds is important. Conference reports highlight the benefits of HAART--reduced incidence and severity of opportunistic infections; HAART is dramatically decreasing HIV transmission from mother to newborn in developed countries. But research efforts into women's health issues are too limited and need more attention. Also highlighted at this year's Conference are continuing concerns about complications emerging due to increased longevity from HAART (hepatitis, bone disorders, risk for heart disease, etc). Spotlighting this was the announcement at this meeting of the new DHHS Treatment Guidelines which recommend deferring therapy until CD4s are 350 and viral load 55,000 by PCR, in large part due to the concern about complications and difficulties in adherence. Some worrisome trends were reported at this meeting. There are alarming new infection rates occurring among African-American and Hispanic men who have sex with men. Transmission of resistant virus to newly infected appears to be increasing and their response to therapy is a concern. As well, concerning rates of unprotected sex among young men who have sex with men were reported.

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