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The 24th International AIDS Conference opens Friday in Montreal | AIDS: on the trail of a pandemic

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During the meeting, researchers, doctors, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, but also patients, representatives of community groups and politicians will discuss the latest research results and the different realities of people living with HIV.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, McGill professor of medicine and HIV expert, is acting as local co-chair of the event, which will be held at the Palais des Congrès and whose economic benefits could exceed $50 million for the Quebec metropolis. .

In the Shadow of COVID

The theme of the conference is Recommitting to AIDS and following the science. It should be noted that HIV/AIDS research has slowed in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funds have been redirected and researchers have been called in to help fight SARS-CoV-2. It is therefore important for organizers to re-engage the efforts of researchers, patients, the pharmaceutical industry for prevention, and the efforts of researchers for prevention and treatment.

This is not the first time the city has hosted the event. The congress returns to Montreal 33 years after the historic 5th edition in 1989, which was attended for the first time by people with HIV/AIDS.

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Expected results

A cure or a vaccine against HIV still eludes medicine, despite significant breakthroughs made in recent decades, thanks in particular to antiretroviral treatments which now allow people to be carriers of the virus without presenting a risk to life.

Results of work on PrEP (sexual pre-exposure prophylaxis), and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) will be presented during the event.

A study on the drug DoxyPEP, based on the antibiotic molecule doxycycline (a tetracycline) and also used against syphilis and gonorrhea, will also be unveiled. This study should show that a dose of DoxyPEP after sex can significantly reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Studies on co-infections, in particular with tuberculosis and hepatitis C, will also be the subject of presentations.

It will also discuss the few cases of HIV remission after a stem cell transplant.

Monkeypox, mental health, quality of health care and the impact of chronic injection opioid use among people living with HIV will also be discussed.

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Some participants, who cannot attend the event in person, will follow the conference by Internet.

A pre-conference

The Canadian Consortium for HIV Cure Research (CanCURE) is hosting a research pre-conference. This series of conferences will be an opportunity for the various stakeholders to discuss avenues for healing the disease.

Dr Éric Cohen and his colleagues from the Montreal Clinical Research Institute will present their work which try to flush out the reservoirs of HIV that persist in the body and represent real niches for the virus, which are reactivated as soon as anti-HIV treatments are stopped, which prevents total remission.

We have made great progress in understanding the mechanisms that promote the persistence of HIV and we are hopeful of overcoming the main obstacles towards a remission of this infection within a few years.says Dr. Cohen.

According to national HIV estimates, 62,000 Canadians were living with HIV at the end of 2018.

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