EACS 2019 – highlights from the 17th European AIDS Conference held in Basel

  • Ana ŠARIĆ
  • Conference Reports
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  • The 17th European AIDS conference welcomed 3,059 delegates from 98 countries with simultaneous translation to the Russian language to extend the outreach and strengthen the participation of Eastern Europe and Central Asia
  • New guidelines v10.0: available in 7 languages and now accessible in multiple formats: a paper booklet, PDF, mobile app, and an interactive website, with video links. Click here to find out more about the changes in the new Guidelines. Ageing and HIV
  • UNAIDS goals 2020 – have we achieved these targets? Are we on track to end AIDS by 2030? Anastasia Pharris (ECDC) presented the status of HIV epidemiology in the region. We are not quite reaching the targets, but we are moving in the right direction. In the WHO European region: 2.2 million people are living with HIV and 300,000 people have contracted HIV since the last EACS conference, 2 years ago. Contrary to the global trend of a 23% decline in new infections over the past decade, a 125% and 60% increase is reported in Central and Eastern Europe, respectively. Transmission patterns across the region differ, with more than half of new diagnoses being due to MSM in the Western region and a quarter of cases being related to injecting drug users (IDU) in the Eastern region, with a smaller proportion reported as being due to MSM, although there is a possibility of misclassification due to stigma. Migration and HIV – an increasing number of migrants from Africa and migration patterns are important in the Western region, with 47% of new cases born in different countries. Interestingly, between 1/3 and 2/3 of migrants acquired HIV post-migration. Click here to find out more.
  • In a Roundtable discussion UNAIDS goals after 2020 – What next? The reasons why 2020 targets are not being met were tackled. Dr. Peter Ghys highlighted the importance of appointing the targets and measuring the progress. The preventive side is not addressed because of the stigma in the most affected populations (Nikos Dedes). The new target should be zero discrimination and zero stigma (Dr. Dara Masoud). The next steps should be to reduce entry into the cascade, reduce new infections, reduce the time from infection to diagnosis (Prof. Jean-Michel Molina) and to address the quality of life. The question posed was: “How to measure stigma and discrimination?”
  • Fast-track Cities initiative involves more than 300 cities and municipalities and is committed to attaining the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target in urban environments. Feedback from Fast-track Cities presented innovative approaches in addressing stigma in diverse environments, and strategies that involve community engagement collaborations, to fight administrative barriers.
  • Fighting stigma and discrimination was a recurring topic during the conference. The community support group for people living with HIV Life4me+ launched ‘NO HIV STIGMA’ campaign which included a march on 8 November 2019. Find out more in our conversation with Dr. Alex Schneider, the founder the non-profit organisation Life4me+.  
  • PrEP. Teymur Noori, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), pointed out the PrEP gap and barriers of implementing PrEP in Europe. They revealed the huge difference in the cost of PrEP for different governments. Prof. Jean-Michel Molina and his team presented the data on the HIV epidemic in France, the newest results from PrEP implementation, and factors associated with PrEP discontinuation.
  • New drugs and who would need them? In her plenary lecture, Prof. Chloe Orkin systematically presented new drugs under development, including; new modes of delivery – long-acting and non-oral delivery of antiretrovirals, subdermal implants, long-acting injectables, patches, oral nanomedicine and vaginal rings. Some of them are already proven effective in other specialities. New avenues in treatment are an attempt to move from treatment to cure and are particularly relevant for a subpopulation of patients whose needs are not met. These include people who; struggle to take oral medication, lack adherence, are heavily treatment-experienced and those who have been excluded from studies to date; women, girls and transgender people. Prof. Orkin emphasised that we need to find treatment for them if we are ever going to get to zero.
  • Biannual standards of care meetings – addressed the challenges and gaps in standard care – specifically in the area of coinfections.
  • Prof. Jens Lundgren reflected on the 25 years of EuroSIDA research.
  • Hector research award was given for best basic science, translation paper and best clinical/epidemiological paper. Congratulations to Prof. Alison Rodger and the PARTNER team.