LIVE FROM EACS: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017
Christina Psomas, MD, PhD is our “grand reporter”
The 16th edition of the European AIDS Conference opened this 25th of October in the sunny Milan and about 3000 delegates from all over the world participate in order to define the European frame of HIV epidemiology, prevention tools and standards of treatment.
During the Conference Opening Session Fiona Mulcahy, the current EACS President presented results from the bi-annual monitoring of the Dublin Declaration on Partnership to Fight HIV /AIDS in Europe and Central Asia. The spread of HIV in the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA) has remained rather stable over the last 10 years, but around 122000 people living with HIV are not aware of the infection. Even if overall HIV treatment starts earlier across the EU/EEA and the majority among those who access the treatment are virally suppressed, one person with HIV out of 6 is not receiving any treatment. She thus launched an appeal during this Conference for an early diagnosis, in order to promote rapid and homogeneous access to HIV testing.
Antonella d’Armonio Monforte, local conference co-chair, highlighted the persistent risk of HIV transmission because of the increased risk of injected drugs. Indeed, the 2015 EMCCDA Report identified a 6% increase of the total of deaths for overdose vs 2014 (8441 deaths in 2015 vs 7950 deaths in 30 countries in 2014). The UK accounts for 31% of those deaths, against 15% for Germany, which ranked second. Despite data omissions for some countries, England and Wales recorded a 26% increase in heroin deaths. According to the Dublin Declaration, syringes are still a significant contagion-spreading factor, that could be responsible for new cases of HIV infection.
During the Round Table regarding Models of HIV testing and Delivery of PrEP, was discussed the fact that most European citizens still lack the opportunity to use this effective method of prevention of the HIV infection. The development of PrEP implementation protocols involving AIDS associations can be very helpful for the success of the model. The criminalization issue also plays an important role in limiting the access and spreading of prevention services among target populations, such as prisoners, sex workers, people who use injectable drugs, legal or illegal migrants, homosexuals.
Finally, new diagnoses among adults over 50 years of age are preponderant in Western Europe and the Baltic, thereby highlighting a two-speed access to testing and treatment among the 31 European countries.
First Day’s plenaries were introduced by Robert Alexander (IBM, Italy) who gave a short speech on the definition of Big Data, and its impacts on science, business and society (PL1).
Nicola Gardini (Keble College, United Kingdom) explored the linguistic dimension of the HIV infection, with its social and cultural extensions (PL2). Using a linguistic analysis could help HIV-infected individuals and their doctors to creatively represent HIV infection.