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CROI 2014 Starts Monday: What’s in Store?

, by San Francisco AIDS Foundation

CROIlogo2014Thousands of scientists, HIV specialists, public health officials, and advocates are headed to Boston for the 21st Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. From March 3–6, HIV experts will present the latest news from prevention, treatment, and cure research, as well as updates on other sexually transmitted infections and opportunistic illnesses.

BETA will be covering breaking news from the conference all week long. In the meantime, here’s a preview of just a handful of anticipated presentations—along with links to background reading to get you up to speed and help you get the most out of CROI 2014.

HIV cure research, including the effect of early antiretroviral therapy (ART)

  • Has the “Mississippi baby” who made headlines last year been joined by a second child believed cured of HIV? Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues will present two case studies on very early ART in perinatal infection (HIV infection that occurs at birth; abstract 75LB), and on the significant reduction of HIV “reservoirs” induced by HIV suppression within the first year of life (abstract 72).
  • Researchers with the VISCONTI Cohort in France will discuss characteristics of CD4 cells in people who started ART early and subsequently controlled the virus without HIV meds (abstract 302).
  • A symposium titled “Toward a Cure: A Challenging Game of Hide and Seek” will address current cure research strategies, including work employing “humanized” mouse models in the quest to force HIV out of reservoirs so it can be killed (abstract 56).

PrEP and microbicide developments

  • What’s the latest from San Francisco’s PrEP Demo Project? Stephanie Cohen and colleagues from San Francisco Department of Public Health will report on PrEP uptake and Truvada drug levels among gay and bi men in the city’s demonstration project (abstract 954).
  • At CROI 2013, researchers with the VOICE trial of oral PrEP for women presented findings that revealed most women in the trial did not take the drug, despite self-reported high adherence—a discovery that raised important questions about how studies are designed. This year, VOICE researchers will discuss the disconnect between adherence estimates and blood-sample data in the trial (abstract 44).
  • Could a single drug, rather than the currently approve combo pill, be used successfully for PrEP? Researchers will present results from a study of tenofovir alone vs. Truvada as PrEP in heterosexual women and men (abstract 43).
  • A handful of presentations will cover the development of non-oral PrEP and microbicide products, including vaginal rings that release dapivirine and maraviroc (abstract 41), gel and dissolvable film formulations of dapivirine (abstract 42LB), and reports on injectable GSK744 in monkey studies (abstracts 39 and 40LB).

Evolving HIV treatment strategies

  • Researchers with the large ACTG 5257 trial will present results on the efficacy and tolerability of three non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-sparing ART regimens (tenofovir/emtricitabine plus either atazanavir, raltegravir, or darunavir) in HIV-positive people with no previous ART experience (abstract 85).
  • Forty-eight week results will be presented from the LATTE study of another NNRTI-sparing regimen, this time including rilpivirine plus the experimental integrase inhibitor GSK744 (abstract 91LB).

New treatment approaches for hepatitis C

  • Day 2 of CROI will see a symposium devoted to new drugs and strategies for treating hepatitis C (HCV) with better success and fewer side effects (abstracts 21–29LB).
  • Another symposium will focus on acute HCV infection, including correlations between HCV levels and HIV viral load in semen (abstract 676), and transmission routes of HCV, including sexual transmission (abstracts 674 and 675).

Check out the downloadable Program-at-a-Glance for a list of all conference presentations, and keep your eyes on BETA for breaking conference news all week long.

What do you most want to hear about from CROI 2014? Let us know in the comments below!

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