World AIDS Day 2015 Bulletin

Message from Mark Feinberg, highlights from the field and more...

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WELCOME FROM IAVI PRESIDENT & CEO MARK FEINBERG

Dear Friends,

For the 27th year, we pause to remember the tens of millions of children, women and men who have lost their lives to AIDS, and their families, friends and communities who have suffered greatly as a result. We also remember all of those who remain at risk of HIV infection and those who need care and treatment but are unable to access it.

Today, we also reemphasize our commitment to expediting the development of an effective HIV vaccine to strengthen the world’s HIV/AIDS response and help prevent tens of millions more children, women and men suffering and dying in the future. We stand alongside all of you and all others engaged in this crucial effort and pledge: It’s time to end it, once and for all.

No single “silver bullet” can end AIDS. Tremendous progress has been made in treating and preventing HIV/AIDS, thanks to the steadfast dedication and creativity of many people and organizations around the world. Importantly, increased access to effective antiretroviral therapy and its earlier use are saving many lives, and increased use of innovative prevention strategies including voluntary male circumcision and pre-exposure prophylaxis will help prevent many new HIV infections. New biomedical prevention approaches, including microbicides and long-acting antiretroviral drugs, are being actively studied and will hopefully be available in the coming years to further augment the global HIV/AIDS response. As health-care workers, policy makers, governments, donors and communities strive to speed and sustain access to effective treatment and prevention innovations for all who need them, it is evident that a vaccine to prevent HIV infection will be a critical ingredient to ultimately achieve a world without AIDS.

On multiple levels, HIV is the most complex and challenging virus humankind has ever faced. Together, we can and must persevere and work with ever-increasing collaboration and effectiveness to limit the impact of AIDS and end the pandemic as soon as possible.

At IAVI, we draw continued inspiration from the great progress being realized in our field and from the remarkable imagination, humanity and dedication that people all around the world are bringing to the fight against AIDS.

mark sig iavi
Mark Feinberg MD, PhD


This World AIDS Day
, IAVI and our many partners around the world will engage in events and activities that range from a panel discussion in New York City on ending AIDS in our lifetimes to an “HIV screening camp” in Rustenburg, South Africa, to a candlelight tribute in Lusaka, Zambia, to a public-speaking competition for university students in Chennai, India.


IN THE NEWS

IAVI will provide product development expertise and laboratory assessment support to a new EU-funded research consortium, the European AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

The IAVI-incubated Human Vaccines Project welcomes MedImmune and Janssen.

Francine Ntoumi of the Congolese Foundation for Medical Research joins IAVI’s Board of Directors.


HIGHLIGHTS & HAPPENINGS

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In October, IAVI helped provide Good Clinical Practices training to 90 research staff from 14 African countries as well as India and Vietnam. This “train-the-trainer” event in Cape Town, SA, was organized by the Global Health Clinical Consortium and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gathering attendees from IAVI and many other partner Product Development Partnerships.

In November, IAVI sponsored and co-facilitated a Good Clinical Laboratory Practices workshop in Nairobi, attended by approximately 40 quality-audit staff, lab managers and other colleagues from our partner Clinical Research Centers (CRCs). The CRCs and laboratories rely on these workshops to enhance and keep current the skill sets required to establish and maintain quality infrastructure for clinical studies.

As part of the VISTA initiative’s training programs, teams from IAVI partner Clinical Research Centers in Kenya and Uganda recently visited IAVI’s Human Immunology Laboratory (HIL) at Imperial College London, to learn to conduct viral inhibition assays that explore how CD8-T cells might inhibit virus growth. Next, HIL staff went to the Medical Research Council/Uganda Virus Research Institute to do further training to ensure the techniques can be applied on-site at partner labs in Africa. In October, IAVI trained 15 Indian scientists in flow cytometry applications for use in clinical trials and mucosal immunology. In addition, VISTA recently completed initial training and placement for eight post-doctoral positions in Africa. Click here to read a new USAID report on VISTA.

nairobi networking smallIn Nairobi last week, IAVI convened 50 early- and mid-career African researchers for a first annual Early Investigators’ Networking meeting under the theme Scientific Communication and Advocacy. Participants received training on scientific and manuscript writing, how to become better communicators and advocates, and the importance of mentorship and networking to their careers. A sub-set of the group participated in the first IAVI-sponsored training in socio-behavioral research methodologies. Many of the participants are supported by IAVI through funding for investigator-initiated projects, advanced degree support and post-doctoral mentored training. Several have been selected as Socio-behavioral Research Champions to build capacity and address priorities in social and behavioral research that supports HIV vaccine research.

IAVI and partners had 19 posters accepted for the 18th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2015) in Harare. We also supported events including several highlighting youth needs for new prevention options. And we worked with amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; John Hopkins University – Center for Public Health and Human Rights, and the United Nations Development Program to launch an updated edition of Respect, Protect Fulfill, guidance for researchers and community-based organizations on working with men who have sex with men.


IAVI SUPPORTING THE FIELD

With support from IAVI, Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council initiated development of an HIV and SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health) Information Portal that will include a database of all published and ongoing biomedical, behavioral and operational research in HIV, SRH and TB (and other co-morbidities), as well as webinars, social media platforms, etc., to help share information.

In October, the Global Health Technologies Coalition organized a US Congressional briefing, co-hosted by Product Development Partnerships including IAVI, which focused on the key role of global health innovation in tackling the world’s most pressing health issues and meeting the challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Supporting the field SymposiumIn October, IAVI President & CEO Mark Feinberg spoke on “Expediting Ebola Vaccine Development via Multi-stakeholder Partnerships” at a Gairdner Foundation symposium on Global Preparedness for Pandemics: Lessons from Ebola. The symposium was led by Dr. Peter Piot, awardee of Gairdner's 2015 global health prize for his co-discovery of the Ebola virus and his many contributions to the HIV/AIDS field.

IAVI’s new fact sheets include information on the impact of a vaccine and the people who need it most.


RESEARCH UPDATE

Enrollment began in October of two Simulated Vaccine Efficacy Trials (SiVETs), which address vaccine-related immunology questions while laying the operational foundations for large-scale HIV vaccine trials. One trial, conducted by IAVI partner the Zambia-Emory HIV Research Project, administers MMR and TDAP-IPV vaccines to healthy, HIV-negative women who are at high risk of HIV infection; another, conducted by IAVI partner the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative Institute of Clinical Research, administers Hepatitis B vaccines in Nairobi. An additional trial, with the Uganda Virus Research Institute-International AIDS Vaccine Initiative HIV Vaccine Program in Entebbe, is scheduled to begin this month using Hepatitis B vaccines.


RECENT PUBLICATIONS FROM IAVI & PARTNERS

A special Supplement of AIDS focuses on research with men who have sex with men conducted by IAVI partner the Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Centre for Geographical Medicine Research-Coast.

Experiences of Kenyan Healthcare Workers Providing Services to Men Who Have Sex with Men - Qualitative Findings from a Sensitivity Training Program - 2013

Men Who Have Sex with Men Sensitivity Training Reduces Homoprejudice and Increases Knowledge among Kenyan Healthcare Providers in Coastal Kenya - 2013

The Green Shoots of a Novel Training Program - Progress and Identified Key Actions to Providing Services to MSM at Kenyan Health Facilities - 2015

Use of Modern Family Planning Methods in Fishing Communities of Lake Victoria, Uganda, PLoS One – 29 Oct. 2015

Identification of Common Features in Prototype Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies to HIV Envelope V2 Apex to Facilitate Vaccine Design, Immunity – 2015

Increased valency of conserved-mosaic vaccines enhances the breadth and depth of epitope recognition, Mol. Ther. – 2015

Chemical Cross-linking Stabilizes Native-Like HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Trimer Antigens, J. Virol. – 28 Oct. 2015

Engineering and Characterization of a Fluorescent Native-Like HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Trimer, Biomolecules – 23 Oct. 2015

Rhesus Macaque B-Cell Responses to an HIV-1 Trimer Vaccine Revealed by Unbiased Longitudinal Repertoire Analysis, MBio. – Nov. 2015


REPORTING ON THE FIELD

The latest IAVI Report features an interview with Mark Feinberg in his early days as IAVI President & CEO; an analysis of the economic drivers and barriers in vaccinating the world’s poorest people, and a look at the role of non-human primates in HIV vaccine R&D.

The November issue of VAX reports on an advocate’s perspective on what an HIV vaccine would mean and scientists’ learnings about the development and maturation of antibody-producing cells.


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