EACS 2019 – Prof. Jürgen Rockstroh: The highlights of the 17th EACS conference in Basel


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The current president of European AIDS clinical society (EACS) and EACS Conference Co-chair Prof. Jürgen Rockstroh shared with us the highlights of the 17th EACS conference, held in Basel November 2019:

“The UNAIDS pre-set goals of 90-90-90 for 2020 are only 8 weeks away, so where are we? I think that is a real point of discussion and interaction. Obviously, some countries are very well on track: Sweden, UK by far reached 90-90-90. London has even claimed to have achieved 95-95-95. But obviously, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, huge challenges remain, which unfortunately contribute to probably highest increase in new infections worldwide.  So, in the entire WHO European region there is a huge challenge. And I think we are here to discuss good models of care, so where are the things working, where we’re getting patients into care, where is retention into care working, where is PrEP implementation in Eastern Europe? Is it successful and changing the epidemiology? What can we learn from this and how can we translate and implement these findings into these regions?

Now, in the German context, let me highlight, as a treating physician in Germany, that we are also very close to the 90-90-90, we achieved the second and the third 90, it is only the first 90 which is only 87%. But I think is fair to say that, with the introduction of self-test and as well the introduction of PrEP, which as of 1st of September is reimbursable by national health insurance plans, that we will see increase in testing among risk populations and that probably that would lead to a change. I would be very positive that we are going to be able to capture and concur that last 90, even this year as the figures are presented on the 1st of December as every year.

So I think that’s probably one of the big highlights. Now obviously, along these lines with prevention tools available in Europe, particularly in Austria and Germany, have really changed the spectrum. But there have been a controversial discussion of the rising of STDs occurring in PrEP users. And so I think we are sort of bound to try to see how is the overall immunology changing and we are sure going to see the data of French national agency which show a decline in new infections after the introduction of PrEP in France. So other than England, this is the 2nd country that we are reporting success rates beyond North America’s analysis which have been presented. So I think, we are really positive to get a new update on PrEP and STIs development and then obviously as in every EASC conference we are going to get a new set of Guidelines, we are going to see version 10.1. We are going to see a broadening of the regiments which are prioritised for the first-line therapy, you are going to get a really great update on management of comorbidities which is important in management of ageing population, half of our German patients are over than 50 years old. We are going to get a really nice tool on how to monitor CVD, renal disease and other issues in our country.

And then we are going to deal with issues which are an ongoing matter of debate – weight gain under antiretrovirals, we have a whole parallel session on weight gain, new data on pathogenesis, why these drugs may cause weight gain. We have a little bit of data on new modes of delivery of agents with long half-lives, implants, injectables…

But probably one of the main focuses is really the centering around improving standard of care in Europe, getting Eastern Europe and Central Asia involved, we have a huge standard of care session on Saturday presenting the result of a first pilot audit around coinfections in various countries, German centers participating in that.

We will have a review of the programme of Fast-track cities initiative.

It is an exciting conference and hopefully will lead to better patient management of patients through entire Europe!”