This is the introduction to the IHP Newsletter #128
Last week it was not the usual Italian stars basking in the limelight of the prestigious Auditorium Parco della Musica. Rome’s exquisite venue hosted IAS 2011, the 6th biennial conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention. More than 5,000 participants gathered to share recent scientific breakthroughs in HIV/AIDS, and there were quite some to be excited about. Remarkable was that more than 25% of the accepted abstracts were from Sub-Saharan Africa.
But let me first highlight an event at the opening plenary that set the tone of the entire conference. The lofty welcome address by Giovanni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome, was clearly not in tune with the strong and desperate appeals about the global waning HIV/AIDS commitment. Particularly Italy’s withdrawal of the Global Fund and its non-disbursement of the promised money since 2009 were heavily criticized. What we got was not an Italian excuse but an open letter/appeal by that same mayor (published in the newspapers the next day) to Berlusconi and the Italian government asking for a review of Italy’s Global Fund decision. An example to be followed?
The wide gap between research and implementation on policy and field level remained a hot topic during the entire conference, one that Italy won’t forget easily as also its Minister of Health was booed at the last conference day. There was a strong call to engage social and political scientists more visibly. All in all a very interesting and optimistic conference with a critical accent at regular intervals.
A good conference coverage is available at http://aidsmap.com/ias2011 and at www.ias2011.org where all of the four conference tracks, Basic Sciences, Clinical Sciences, Prevention Science and Operations and Implementation Research are detailed.
A lot to bridge between research and real-world applicability before the 7th IAS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2013.