From the beginning to the end of HIV: the great successes and remaining challenges

Free Public Lecture

From the beginning to the end of HIV: the great successes and remaining challenges

The advances in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection have been spectacular. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has led to a major reduction in HIV-related mortality and morbidity. Life expectancy is now often normal for people living with HIV. Treatment is relatively simple, has few adverse effects and is currently available to 15 million people in low and middle income countries. In addition, treatment of HIV leads to a marked reduction in HIV transmission. New prevention strategies have also been developed and are highly effective, including pre exposure prophylaxis and circumcision. Many believe that we now have the tools to see the end of AIDS as well as a major decline in new infections - but the challenge is in implementing and funding what we know works.

Despite these great advances, globally only 30% of people living with HIV are on effective treatment and in 2014 there were 37 million people living with HIV, 2 million new HIV infections and 1 million AIDS related deaths. Stigma and discrimination also continue in many parts of the world with ongoing marginalisation of affected communities. In addition, treatment is lifelong and there is no cure. Most countries are still struggling to fund pre-exposure prophylaxis. Therefore, the search for an effective vaccine and a cure and ongoing investment in science and innovation remain a top priority to ultimately see the end of HIV.

Professor Sharon Lewin will present the R Douglas Wright Lecture 2015.

Sharon Lewin is the inaugural director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital; Professor of Medicine, The University of Melbourne; consultant infectious diseases physician, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; and an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellow. She is an infectious diseases physician and basic scientist.

Sharon has spent her career in infectious diseases devoted to HIV medicine and research. She did her postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University, New York with Time Man of the Year, Professor David Ho in 1997-1999. This was the very beginning of highly effective antiviral therapy for HIV which could effectively control but not cure HIV. Her main passion since then has been working towards a cure for HIV and ensuring that advances in Science are rapidly translated to practical outcomes for people living with HIV. She was the local co-chair for the 20th International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne in July 2014, the largest health conference ever held in Australia. She was named Melburnian of the Year in 2014 for her inspirational contribution to the City of Melbourne. This was the first time this award was made to a clinician or scientist.

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