Southern Africa is in its strongest position yet when it comes to control of the AIDS epidemic, however there are still major hurdles that need to be overcome. The 8th SA AIDS Conference held earlier this month at the ICC in Durban addressed the latest advances in basic sciences alongside an emphasis on how to be part of lasting change to prevent new infections.
Making their voices heard at the event with quality presentations were SANTHE's very own Programme Director, Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, and Scientific Advisory Board member, Professor Penny Moore. They spoke within the theme: “Basic Sciences - Putting the spanner in the works - the nuts and bolts of HIV prevention." Moore, as third speaker, discussed, “Broadening Prospects for an HIV Vaccine”, and Ndung'u, as fourth and last speaker for the session, spoke about, "Imagining a world without HIV: what are the challenges and prospects for a functional cure." He said, South Africa, like the rest of the world, needed a cure for HIV, but finding one would not be easy. He cited the evolving nature of the HI virus and its ability to hide as the biggest obstacles to flushing HIV out of the human system. He also mentioned several methods tried over the years, without success.
Moore, the research chair of virus-host dynamics at the University of the Witwatersrand and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, said the AMP study – which seeks to find out if cloning broadly neutralising antibodies can prevent HIV infection – was currently enrolling volunteers. Scientists working on the AMP study plan to recruit 4,200 people, of whom 1,500 will be women living in sub-Saharan Africa at high risk of acquiring HIV.