An Emphasis on Preventing, Treating HIV at CROI 2016

Researchers will present data from nearly 1,000 studies exploring the epidemiology and biology of human retroviruses and associated diseases

More than 4,000 physicians from nearly 100 countries are expected in Boston this week to get the latest in clinical research on HIV and other infections at the 2016 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016).  

Infectious Disease Advisor will provide daily video and other coverage from the conference throughout the week. Highlights of the conference include new data on the Ebola epidemic, and developments in the prevention and treatment of HIV.

“Too often we hear that people think HIV is over and we’ve kind of gotten it taken care of,” Judith S. Currier, MD, CROI Vice Chair and associate chief of the division of infectious disease at UCLA said during a press conference on CROI 2016. “This is a really important opportunity to remind people of the work that’s yet to be done and all the progress that’s being made.”

CROI Chair Julie M. Overbaugh, PhD,a full member with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and an associate professor at the University of Washington, said during the Monday press conference that 119 abstracts, including 25 late-breaking abstracts, and 884 posters are scheduled for presentation. Topics range from the use of antibodies in vaccination efforts for a range of disease, virology, natural killer cells in HIV infection, pre-exposure prophylaxis efforts, and results from studies exploring the use of interferon in early HIV infection pathogenesis.1

“There’s also a range of cure related research, including new studies to further define the reservoir and the role of the immune system in maintaining viral suppression and the role of the CNS as a sanctuary,” she added.

CROI vice chair for public health Susan P. Buchbinder, MD, clinical professor of medicine and epidemiology/biostatistics at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California at San Francisco, reviewed some of the studies that looked at public health, prevention, and epidemiology. She explained that in much the same way that medical science learned and grew following the first results showing the efficacy of protease inhibitors 20 years ago, medical researchers are learning how to expand their pre-exposure prophylaxis efforts from the initial, game-changing results.

“Last year, we had some really groundbreaking data presented that were follow-ups from earlier studies that demonstrated that co-formulated tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada) was effective when taken on a daily basis for prevention for men, heterosexual couples and for injection drug users,” Dr Buchbinder said. This year at the conference, different methods of using pre-exposure prophylaxis are presented.

Buchbinder pointed to results from studies evaluating the efficacy of the prophylactic Dapivirine Vaginal Ring that she called “groundbreaking.”2

“We’ve been eagerly awaiting their release because we need multiple methods of delivering antiretrovirals for prevention,”she said.


1. Mascola JR. Harnessing Antibodies for HIV-1 Prevention and Treatment. Presented at: CROI 2016. Feb. 22-25, 2016. Boston

2. Baeten JM. 109LB. A Phase III Trial of the Dapivirine Vaginal Ring for HIV-1 Prevention in Women. Presented at: CROI 2016. Feb. 22-25, 2016. Boston.