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What to Expect From the 2003 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

February 2003

Once every year all of the thousands of scientists and doctors trying to find better ways to fight AIDS get together in a big meeting called the Annual Retrovirology Conference.

At this year's conference, to be held in Boston from February 10 to February 14, the results of hundreds of HIV studies will be presented. Former President Bill Clinton will address the convention of thousands of scientists from around the world about the political aspects of HIV especially access to treatment.

The convention is expected to address four big problems:

  • Side effects
  • HIV getting resistant to medicines
  • The need for new approaches to fighting HIV
  • The need for a cure or vaccine

Efforts to Solve Side Effect Issues

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb is expected to release data on its once-a-day protease inhibitor atazanavir that does not seem to cause increases in cholesterol.
  • Efforts to use leptin to reduce lipodystrophy syndrome.
  • The results of new surgical cosmetic procedures to handle facial wasting.


Efforts to Solve Virus Resistance

There will be new data on the Boehringer Ingelheim's once-a-day protease inhibitor Tipranavir, a drug that works on protease resistant virus.

There will be presentations on Glaxo and Merck's new integrase inhibitors -- medicines that will work against virus immune to all of the old medicines.

We expect to hear Abbott's Kaletra has done better at keeping the virus suppressed than any other protease inhibitor in history. Not one of the 508 people in the initial studies had their virus get resistant in four years. We also expect to see Kaletra in combination with saquinavir can work on virus resistant to available protease inhibitors.

We are hoping to hear how Fuzeon (T-20), developed by Trimeris, does in trials, especially any side effects at the point of injection and any efforts to find a better way to deliver the entry inhibitor. This type of drug stops HIV from getting into cells in the first place and will fight HIV that is resistant to all other medicines.

Finally we will see many once a day regimens evolving, as we learn new ways to use Epivir (3TC), Zerit (d4T), and Kaletra. This will help people from missing doses. (And we know from many studies the main reason drugs fail is because people miss doses.)

New Approaches to Fighting HIV

We expect:

  • To hear updates on the immune booster IL-2 after a close call when Chiron closed the study down but recently funded a new organization to finish the study of this important immune based therapy.
  • To hear the therapeutic vaccine Remune will be tested in a Canadian trial by Dr. Bill Cameron to see if it can delay the onset of HIV illness.
  • To see the data about HE2000, the first immune based therapy that seems to boost the immune system enough to clear malaria and perhaps to help the body reduce the amount of HIV.
  • To hear about the NIH's Dr. Mark Dybul's treatment interruption trials and other interruption trials.

Search For A Cure

Until more progress is made toward finding a cure for HIV, our best hope to end the epidemic is better ways to prevent the spread of the disease.

There is reason to believe from monkey data that Gilead's Viread (tenofovir) can protect a person from getting HIV. We may hear about efforts to test Viread's use as a chemical condom.

We will also hear about Glaxo and Merck's efforts to build an AIDS vaccine.

Valentines Lunch & Treatment Forum

Search For A Cure will be hosting a free Valentine's Day Lunch and Retro Conference Community Briefing, February 14th from 1-3 pm at the at the Sheraton Boston.

You must pre-register by calling 617-536-2474 for your free reservation.

For more information please view our site

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This article was provided by Search for a Cure. It is a part of the publication Reasons for Hope.