The 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) brought together thousands of attendees from different backgrounds all in the hopes of pursuing the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. AIDS 2016 was held in Durban, South Africa last July 18 to 22. The conference saw philanthropists, scientists, advocates and even people living with HIV, coming from 180 different countries, join together to share their own views and to further the cause.
HIV/AIDS, which interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections, has killed so many people over the years. And while its occurrence has had a significant drop in recent years, thanks to the relentless effort of activist groups, it is still not enough protect everyone from the deadly virus.
“We need innovation and research that will deliver a vaccine and cure,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, which is the joint United Nations Programs specifically for HIV/AIDS.
In 2014 alone, the World Health Organization estimated 1.2 million deaths worldwide caused by HIV with about 34 million more struggling with the disease. The number of deaths has already gone down from a peak of 2.2 million back in 2005.
“The rate of infection remains stubbornly high, particularly among the most vulnerable. Young women between 15 and 24 accounted for 20 percent of new infections last year,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy president of South Africa. “We need to ensure that adolescent girls and young women, and more broadly, young adults ? men and women ? receive information and advice and are able to access services such as condoms and where necessary, pre-exposure prophylaxis.”
Numerous research and studies have been conducted in search for a vaccine or cure, including that of an antibody that is touted to delay the disease’s progression. Distinctive antibodies, dubbed as 3BNC117, were already gearing for a rollout in the United States last month. During AIDS 2016, it was announced that the vaccine ALVAC-HIV/gp120 was to be disseminated and tested in 5,400 people in South Africa as part of a large-scale clinical trial happening this November.