Berlin is the host city of the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2021), the International AIDS Society (IAS) announced today. The city hosted the 9th International AIDS Conference in 1993, but this is the first time that it will host the IAS Conference on HIV Science.
IAS 2021 will take place at Messe Berlin on 18-21 July 2021. It is expected to convene 6,000 scientists, clinicians, public health experts and community leaders from over 140 countries.
“HIV remains an important issue on our national and international agenda,” Germany’s Federal Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, said. “To further reduce the spread of HIV, we have made HIV self-testing widely available in Germany and will pass a bill to provide PrEP prescriptions free of charge for people with substantial risk of infection.
“Further research, concerted efforts and innovations are needed to end AIDS by 2030. We will therefore continue to invest in HIV research to find a vaccination and cure for HIV, and we are delighted that the IAS Conference on HIV Science in 2021 will bring together the renowned scientific community in Berlin to share state-of-the-art knowledge that contributes to preventing new HIV infections and to improving the lives of people living with HIV.fn
Germany is highly regarded for its leadership in HIV research and its capital is also home to the first and only reported case of a sterilizing cure for HIV, commonly known as the “Berlin patient”. German doctor Gero Hütter from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin treated Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV-positive man, with acute myeloid leukaemia. Hütter led the process of a bone marrow transplant of haematopoietic stem cells from a naturally HIV-resistant donor, and Brown has continued to be free of readily detectable virus in the absence of therapy for 12 years. This case continues to serve as a scientific landmark suggesting that HIV infection might one day be curable.
“It is the evidence-based approaches that help us tackle the most complicated health challenges,” IAS President-Elect Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who will be the IAS President in 2021, said.
“The innovative research that is presented at the IAS Conference on HIV Science provides the insight and data we need to tackle the most critical barriers facing our world today. This science is key to understanding how to address issues such as ending the epidemic among people who inject drugs and other vulnerable populations, developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine, and new prevention and treatment tools. There is no better role model than Berlin to help us focus on these challenges.”
Harm reduction is a pillar of the German national drug strategy; it has more needle and syringe vending machines than any other country – 160 at last count. Additionally, Germany recently made HIV self-testing kits easily available for sale throughout the country with the aim of supporting more people to learn their HIV status as early as possible and seek out early treatment.
The lack of these harm reduction interventions in Russia in particular has made the bordering Eastern Europe and Central Asia region home to the fastest growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world, with new infections rising by 57% a year from 2010 to 2015. The epidemic in the region is concentrated mostly in key populations, such as men who have sex with men, LGBT communities, sex workers and migrants. It is especially prevalent among people who inject drugs, who made up 39% of new HIV cases in 2017.
“We are very proud to host the world’s most influential meeting on HIV research,” the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, said. “It represents Berlin’s commitment to investing in cutting-edge and evidence-based approaches to ensure quality of life and equal access to treatment and prevention services. We look forward to working with the IAS to advance science and research needed for the global fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Berlin joins a diverse line-up of cities that have hosted the IAS Conference on HIV Science, including Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sydney and Vancouver.