- Molecular research into HIV infection that may lead to a cure and new drugs have been developed or recommended.
- Effective preventative approaches are in place, but there’s room for further implementation.
- Ageing population with HIV represents a new challenge.
- Strong efforts are needed to optimise standards of care.
Why this matters?
- Despite advances, challenges are still present in many aspects of HIV management and new ones are emerging.
In the current rapidly changing scenario, several challenges are still present or are emerging and need to be addressed. All of them have been extensively discussed during the 17th European AIDS Conference in Basel.
HIV cure development
Many research scientists joined the conference, shedding light on a variety of new cellular and molecular aspects of HIV infection in a dedicated workshop. To reach the goal of a cure, research scientists, clinical scientists and people with HIV infection should definitely work together.
Prevention was confirmed as one of the main game changers of HIV epidemiology with several presentations focusing on PrEP as a major preventive approach. Concerns are still present in the field, such as inequality across Europe, risk compensation or frequency of testing. It can’t just be all about PrEP, combination is the key for effective HIV prevention and it requires tailored interventions.
New drugs and antiretroviral therapy toxicity
Things are moving forward very quickly in this field with drugs active at every step of the HIV infection. Many of these new drugs have been developed for their activity on a long-term basis and with new routes for delivery, such as patches. Together with new recommendations for treatment, this is pushing to more individualised treatments and avoidance of undesirable effects such as weight gain.
Ageing with HIV
A session was dedicated to ageing patients, accounting for a big proportion of the HIV infected population and showing specific needs, mainly relating to frailty, comorbidities and polytherapy. The toxic drugs that patients have been exposed to in the past also play a role. Collaboration among specialists and personalisation of services are mandatory to tackle these needs.
Standards of care in Europe
Defining the standards of care is mandatory to allow prompt diagnosis and treatment. There is a huge diversity across Europe and special issues and priorities should be identified in each area with different resources available. This is where standards of care can diverge.