Last week it was the International Conference of the Aids Vaccine 2013, held in Barcelona (Spain).
During the 3 days of the event more than a 1,000 researchers, funders, experts in HIV, policy makers, stakeholders and implementers discussed over 450 studies about the latest advances and obstacles in the search for an HIV vaccine.
Apart from Spain being the organiser, there were 46 more countries represented.
To the date, this is the world’s only scientific meeting that focuses exclusively on HIV vaccine research.
According to UNAIDS, there are around 35 million people infected in the world and 2,3 million people died from AIDS last year. There is still no vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.
It’s not only dealing with HIV and AIDS itself – having the cure for HIV will be a major breakthrough; it’ll reduce its sexual transmission, avoid the virus to transfer from the infected mother to her yet unborn baby, prevent HIV among drug users, increase the access to the full recovery, eliminate travel restrictions or stop the stigmas and discrimination.
There are also many specific cases that come up in the news and need to be discussed, such as the recent strain of HIV that came up in Russia. This subtype is apparently more infectious than the two common types of the virus.
Furthermore, some researchers say that cats may be the key to an HIV vaccine as blood from infected patients shows an immune response against a feline AIDS virus protein.
Or the new medicine developed at the University of Georgia that attacks the virus before it integrates with human DNA.
Overall this was a great opportunity for international experts in the different fields of expertise but all related to HIV to get together, present their work or share their ideas and to brainstorm and unite their skills towards the one and only purpose: as big as all the millions of people that are in need of help and as small as a needle lying across the table.