Dignitas was in Vancouver earlier this month to share our research findings at the 2015 International AIDS Society conference (IAS 2015). Our team of scientists shared both oral and poster presentations with 6,000 fellow delegates from around the world at this biennial forum, which is the largest open scientific conference on HIV-related issues.
IAS 2015 brings together scientists, clinicians, public health experts, community leaders and the media to review the latest scientific developments in HIV-related research and explore how such developments can be practically applied in health care delivery.
The elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission was a key research area for Dignitas as this year’s conference. Dignitas has been working closely with the Ministry of Health in Malawi to implement a groundbreaking program to improve maternal health and eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Known as Option B+, the program employs a test and treat strategy to ensure all pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are offered HIV testing and all those who test positive are offered immediate access to lifelong antiretroviral therapy, regardless of the stage of their disease.
Malawi was the first country to roll out this ‘treatment as prevention’ program in 2011. Since then, the World Health Organization has endorsed Option B+ and more than 20 countries have adopted the strategy. With the scale up of Option B+ around the world, finding the optimal model of care for starting and retaining mothers in care will be critical to the success of the program. Along with partners, our research on the effectiveness of Option B+ in Malawi will provide a roadmap to eliminate mother-to-child transmission in other countries. Both Cuba and Canada recently announced the achievement of this milestone.
In conjunction with the conference, Dignitas hosted a ‘Science & Spirits’ reception, which brought together collaborators and donors for an evening with our researchers. Guests had the opportunity to hear short talks about our broader research themes and ask questions. We were also honoured to have Dr. Julio Montaner, Co-Chair of the IAS 2015, in attendance. Dr. Montaner provided closing remarks, inspired our collective efforts and marked the way forward to ending AIDS as a public health threat.
Dr. Montaner has long championed ‘treatment as prevention’ as the key strategy to ending the epidemic globally. At this year’s conference scientists shared irrevocable evidence proving that ending AIDS is possible with this approach.
For a deeper look at Dignitas’s participation at IAS 2015, please see additional resources below:
Selected Media Coverage
Globe and Mail – We can end AIDS, so let’s do it.
CBC Metro Morning – July 24, 2015 HIV
News1130.com – International AIDS Conference hosted in Vancouver
News 1130 – July 19, 2015
AM 980 – July 19, 2015
NAM AIDSmap – Giving people information about HIV treatment as prevention lessens stigma and increases testing rates
MOAC0201 – Post prevention of mother-to-child-transmission: 30-months outcomes in the Malawian “Option B+ programme”) – Andreas Haas
MOPDC0102 – Reducing stigma and increasing HIV testing with a health information intervention, a cluster-randomized trial from Malawi – Dr. Laura Derksen
MOPEC457 – Characteristics and outcomes of women initiating ART during pregnancy versus breastfeeding in Option B+ in Malawi – Dr. Megan Landes
MOPEC460 – Same day integration of HIV diagnosis and treatment with antenatal care affects retention in Option b+ prevention of mother to child transmission services in Zomba District, Malawi – Dr. Adrienne Chan
TUPED810 – Estimating the need for integrated management of hypertension and diabetes mellitus in HIV patients, Zomba District, Malawi – Dr. Sumeet Sodhi, Oscar Divala
TUPED811 – Lipid abnormalities in urban and rural patients on ART in Zomba district – Dr. Sumeet Sodhi, Oscar Divala