National Summit to Focus on Accelerating Testing and Ensuring Access to HCV and HIV Care

At a time when new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are rising and HIV rates have reached epidemic levels in some rural communities, the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research will convene its 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care to intensify the nation's prevention, detection and treatment efforts.

Taking place after the state of Indiana declared a public health emergency to control an HIV and HCV epidemic in rural parts of the state fueled by intravenous drug use and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new projections that HCV-related deaths will reach 36,000 a year by 2030, the 2015 National Summit on HCV and HIV Diagnosis, Prevention and Access to Care (June 4-6, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va.) will bring together an estimated 300 scientists, clinicians, public health leaders and advocates to address the persistent barriers that keep too many Americans from getting tested for HIV and HCV, linked to care and able to benefit from the newest therapies, despite the intent of the Affordable Care Act.

According to the CDC, about 86 percent of the estimated 1.2 million Americans aged 13 and older now living with HIV have been diagnosed with the disease yet less than one-third (30 percent) have suppressed viral loads – meaning the majority of HIV patients are not able to achieve the survival gains associated with regular HIV care visits and antiretroviral treatment (ART). At the same time, CDC estimates that because 45 percent to 85 percent of the 3.2 million Americans chronically infected with HCV are unaware of their status, as many as 70 percent will ultimately develop chronic liver disease, 20 percent will develop cirrhosis of the liver and up to 5 percent will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer, even though HCV can now be cured by new oral drug regimens and combination therapies.

"The 2015 National Summit is designed to identify the roadblocks that are standing in the way of increased HIV and HCV testing and ensuring infected individuals get ongoing access to quality care – interventions known to dramatically reduce infection and save lives," says Veronica Miller, PhD, director of the Forum. "Our goal is to ask the hard questions and identify solutions that will move the science of prevention, care and treatment forward."

A summit highlight will recognize the achievements of one of the pioneers in infectious diseases, John G. Bartlett, MD, co-chair of the Forum's executive committee and formerly chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins for 26 years. 

In honor of Bartlett's role at the forefront of fighting the emerging AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, starting an AIDS clinic at Hopkins in 1983, being the first to direct clinical trials in Baltimore of new treatments that prevent HIV from replicating, and being the co-chair and one of the founding members of the national committee that drafted the first and all subsequent treatment guidelines for HIV-infected patients, Bartlett will receive the 2015 C. Everett Koop Public Health Leadership Award at a special awards ceremony on June 4.

Bartlett has also been a tireless advocate for HIV and HCV testing and for an increased investment in interventions that link both HIV and HCV patients to ongoing care. After receiving the Koop Award, the ceremony will feature remarks from Bartlett looking back at more than 25 years of successes and failures in addressing the twin HIV and HCV epidemics.

Widely considered the premier venue for researchers, healthcare providers, advocates and policy makers to discuss the current state of affairs and steps needed to eliminate the HIV and HCV epidemics in the U.S., the 2015 National Summit will feature 144 scientific abstracts that chart the wealth of ongoing efforts to support routine testing and linkage to care.

In addition, the Summit will feature panel sessions where some of the top government and scientific leaders will discuss the burden of HIV/AIDS and HCV in the U.S., the nation's progress in implementing the Obama Administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, Indiana's epidemic of HIV and HCV in rural communities, and the increasing practice of many health plans to restrict access to newer oral HCV treatments and ART drugs for HIV. Highlights include:

Thursday, June 4; 5:50 PM EDT – The State of HIV and the Viral Hepatitis Epidemics in the U.S.
• Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
• John Ward, MD, Director of the CDC's Viral Hepatitis Program, NCHHSTP
• Laura Cheever, MD, ScM, Associate Administrator, HIV/AIDS Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration
• Gloria Searson, ACSW, Founding Director and President of the Coalition On Positive Health Empowerment

Friday, June 5; 12:00 PM EDT – The Current State and Future Prospects for Bio-Behavioral HIV Prevention
• Kenneth Mayer, MD, Director of HIV Prevention at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and the Medical Research Director of The Fenway Institute in Boston
• Carl W. Dieffenbach, PhD, Director, Division of AIDS (DAIDS), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
• Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute
• Adaora Adimora, MD, MPH, Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Friday, June 5; 2:00 PM EDT – Cost and Coverage Barriers to HIV and HCV Care
A panel moderated by:
• Camilla Graham, MD, MPH, Co-Director of the Viral Hepatitis Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital
• Steven R. Young, MSPH, Director of HRSA's Division of Metropolitan HIV/AIDS Programs

Saturday, June 6; 10:00 AM EDT – Lessons Learned from Indiana's HIV and HCV Outbreak
• Jennifer Walthall, MD, MPH, Deputy Health Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health
• Sally Hodder, MD, Executive Vice-chair Department of Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
• Amy Lansky Knowlton, PhD, MPH, Deputy Director for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Science, CDC, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy

The 2015 National Summit is an IAS 2015 Independent Affiliated Event sponsored by the Forum of Collaborative HIV Research. The agenda for the meeting was developed with the participation of experts from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harm Reduction Coalition, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at HHS, AIDS United, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc., Community Education Group, Hepatitis Education Project, HIV in Europe, HIV Medicine Association, Kaiser Permanente, National Association of Community Health Centers, National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, Project Inform, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, SisterLove, The Bridging Group, Treatment Action Group, and the Urban Coalition  for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services.

Part of the University of California (UC), Berkeley School of Public Health and based in Washington, DC, the Forum was founded in 1997 as the outgrowth of a White House initiative. Representing government, industry, patient advocates, healthcare providers, foundations and academia, the Forum is a public/private partnership that organizes roundtables, hosts the National Summit, and issues reports on a range of global HIV and viral hepatitis issues, including treatment-related toxicities, immune-based therapies, health services research, co-infections, prevention, and the transference of research results into care.

Forum recommendations have changed the ways that clinical trials are conducted, accelerated the delivery of new classes of drugs for treatment of HIV and HCV, heightened awareness of TB/HIV co-infection, and helped to spur national momentum toward universal testing for HIV and the onetime testing of older adults to detect early stage HCV. Currently, the Forum's model of stakeholder engagement and driven deliberation is being applied to five disease areas: HIV, HCV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and transplantation, and liver diseases.  More information is available at: http://www.hivforum.org.

Source: Forum for Collaborative HIV Research

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