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For immediate release: August 12, 2011
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HIV prevention conference to focus on high-impact prevention
More than 3,000 public health, medical and AIDS community leaders will convene at the 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference August 14-17 in Atlanta, to share the latest research and discuss innovative strategies to drive down the number of new HIV infections in the United States. The meeting, organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and co-sponsored by 40 other public and private agencies, is the only major U.S. conference dedicated exclusively to HIV prevention. Conference sessions and scientific presentations will focus on strategies to advance the ambitious HIV prevention goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
The 2011 conference marks 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported, and the latest CDC data show that roughly 50,000 Americans still become infected with HIV every year – with African-Americans, Latinos, and gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities most affected.
But the conference comes at an exciting time for the field, with several major advances in HIV prevention research reported over the past year. Several studies have shown that medications commonly used to treat HIV can also significantly reduce the risk of infection among uninfected heterosexuals and men who have sex with men (MSM). Another recent study demonstrated that earlier treatment for HIV-positive individuals can dramatically reduce the risk that they will transmit HIV to others. And HIV testing for all Americans is at an all-time high, with a recent CDC testing initiative resulting in an additional 2.8 million Americans being tested for HIV in three years.
“While significant challenges remain, this has been a banner year for HIV prevention research,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “After 30 years of HIV, there are more prevention tools to help combat the epidemic than ever before, which gives us hope that we can further drive down HIV infections in this country. This conference is one major step in a renewed, national drive to get the most out of our HIV prevention efforts and save as many lives as possible.”
In addition to about 700 scientific presentations on the most critical HIV prevention issues facing the nation today, the conference will feature plenary and other special sessions by noteworthy public health leaders, including Jeffrey Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Actress and HIV activist Rosie Perez will also lead an event commemorating the lives and struggles of the more than 617,000 Americans with AIDS who have died.
Focus on High-Impact Prevention
To achieve the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s goals for reducing new HIV infections, CDC and its partners are pursuing a new high-impact prevention approach to fighting the U.S. epidemic. This approach focuses on implementing programs that have demonstrated the greatest potential to reduce new HIV infections in the populations at highest risk, and implementing them on a scale large enough to yield the greatest possible impact on the HIV epidemic. According to CDC, high-impact prevention will be critical to achieving the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s primary goal of reducing new HIV infections.
Many conference presentations will focus on strategies to carry out this vision, with a particular emphasis on ways to increase HIV testing and improve linkages to and retention in care. Currently, 1 in 5 of the nearly 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States are unaware of their infection. And although HIV testing rates are at an all-time high, more than half of Americans still have never been tested.
Featured research will include data on testing rates, HIV prevalence, and risk behaviors among those at highest risk for HIV; a national assessment of state-level policy changes and health department efforts to implement CDC’s routine HIV testing recommendations; and the largest study to date examining the proportion of HIV-infected individuals who are receiving ongoing HIV care.
Researchers will also present findings from a large study that measures the impact of personal and social factors that place young black MSM at high risk for HIV. To date, there have been limited data about the factors contributing to the high burden of HIV among black MSM, particularly those who are young – and yet the latest CDC data show that new infections among this group are increasing every year. In addition, CDC will preview a major new campaign being developed to increase HIV testing among black MSM – called “Testing Makes Us Stronger” – as the next phase of its ongoing Act Against AIDS campaign.
“While we’ve made enormous progress against HIV in the United States, we continue to face an uphill battle,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Unless we greatly increase the impact of our prevention efforts, focusing resources where they will have the greatest positive effect, the growing population of Americans living with HIV will ultimately lead to increases in new infections. The sooner we step up our efforts, the more lives we will save.”
The 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference, convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 40 public, private and government agencies, is taking place in Atlanta, August 14-17. This biennial meeting focuses exclusively on the full spectrum of HIV prevention, giving community organizations, public health professionals, clinicians, advocates and other interested individuals the opportunity to exchange information about effective prevention approaches. For more information, please visit www.2011nhpc.org.
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