27 May INTEREST 2015 a resounding success!
5 – 8 May, Harare
The INTEREST 2015 Workshop dedicated to Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren was a resounding success. Over 470 registrants participated in a stellar scientific program that included plenary addresses, oral abstracts, poster discussion sessions (for the first time), satellites, and poster viewings. AIGHD’s Gaby Gomez teamed up with Francois Venter of Wits to argue the opponent side in a lively debate chaired by CDC’s Peter Kilmarx entitled PreP is ready for prime time in Africa – and they won! Their team was able to convince more of the undecided or yes voters to move to their position than the affirmative team was able to move undecided or no voters. In this debate and another chaired by AIGHD’s Cate Hankins entitled Resolved that the continent of Africa is not yet ready to treat hepatitis C,the audience was actively engaged on both sides, stating views for and against before the final rebuttals. We will post the links to videotapes of these and other plenary sessions in due course so that you can be the judge.
An important innovation introduced at INTEREST 2015 was early morning seminars for aspiring early career investigators with well-published world-class scientists and mid-career researchers about how to get started, get funded, and get published. A not-to-be-forgotten session on adolescents sponsored by Janssen saw a young woman from the audience, inspired by a young man on the podium, talk in public for the first time about her serostatus and living with HIV as an adolescent. PASER’s well-received session on HIV and other drug resistance chaired by AIGHD’s Tobias Rinke de Wit on the final morning was followed by a ViiV symposium on first and second line regimens. The Embassy of the Netherlands in Harare and local UNAIDS sponsored a site visit on the final day to the research hospital at Chitungwiza that highlighted research conduct: Completing the virtuous circle: research impact from participant to beneficiary.
The sponsors of INTEREST 2015, platinum [Gilead Sciences, Abbvie, and Janssen], gold [GSK/ViiV], and others met with the organizing committee on the final morning to take stock and plan for INTEREST 2016. Keen interest was expressed in seeing a West African location.