PRESS RELEASE: 11th Annual INTEREST WORKSHOP Comes to Lilongwe, Malawi

16 MAY 2017

For the first time, Malawi is hosting the annual INTEREST Workshop. The 11th edition of this HIV research event has a record breaking 568 people registered to attend. Over 200 abstracts were submitted for peer review. INTEREST 2017 participants are coming to Malawi from 38 different countries around the world.
INTEREST 2017 is being held at the Bingu International Convention Center (BICC) May 16 -19. The opening ceremony takes place on 16 May at 09.00. Special guests include the Honorable Dr Peter Kumpalume, MP, Minister of Health of Malawi, and the Councilor Dr Desmond Bikoko, Mayor of Lilongwe.

Known as ‘The African CROI’, the INTEREST Workshop is now a recognized fixture in the HIV conference calendar. Its full name is the INTEREST Workshop on HIV Treatment, Pathogenesis, and Prevention Research in Resource-limited Settings. The workshop is presented in a different country in Africa each year.
Young researchers and established international HIV experts share original research and state-of-the-art reviews on a wide range of HIV and related topics. The workshop offers lectures, abstract-driven oral and poster presentations, debates, and meet-the-expert sessions. Early morning mentoring sessions see mid-career and senior investigators providing research career guidance to young researchers. Grants sponsorship sessions focus on how to best position research grant proposals for success. Clinical case studies, poster discussions, and a good participatory practice/community advisory board session complete the early morning schedule.

Malawi has played an important role in HIV scientific advances on the African continent. Hosting the INTEREST workshop in Malawi enables scientists, clinicians, program managers, students, and others to showcase the great efforts that Malawi has made in combating HIV including the spearheading of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Option B+ which the World Health Organization has adopted.

The Workshop was launched in 2007 and 10 successful meetings have been convened in Uganda, Senegal (twice), Zambia (twice), Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon.

Since 2014, the INTEREST Workshops have been dedicated to the memory of Professor Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD). Pivotal in establishing the INTEREST workshop as a leading African and international forum for the dissemination of HIV science and practice, they died tragically when the Malaysian MH17 flight was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014.

The INTEREST Workshop is a collaboration between the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and Virology Education. The International Organising Committee chair of the meeting is Prof Catherine Hankins of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development. Prof Elly Katabira of Makerere University, Uganda is a co-chair. The Local Organising Committee chair is Prof Sam Phiri of The Lighthouse Trust.

The Malawi Ministry of Health led by the Department of HIV and AIDS is the official Host of the Workshop. Lighthouse Trust is the local secretariat coordinating all partner Development and Implementation institutions (PEPFAR, University of North Carolina, John Hopkins Unversity Project, National AIDS Commission, Partners in Health, MANASO, MANET+, Dignitas InternationalUNAIDS, Baylor College of Medicine Childrens Foundation, World Health Organisation) in the organisation of the workshop. The Lighthouse Trust was officially opened in 2002as a Malawian registered public trust that exists to contribute to Malawi’s national response to HIV as a model in providing a continuum of high quality care and building capacity in the health sector. Lighthouse Trust, a World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Centre of Excellence, works in close coordination with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to operate two large integrated HIV testing, treatment and care clinics in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Lighthouse contributes to and aligns efforts with Government of Malawi’s implementation of goals, objectives, strategies, and action points of the National Action Framework on HIV and AIDS that focus on reducing new HIV infections, improving the quality of treatment and care, mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS on individuals and households, and supporting systems needed to achieve these goals.

The Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD) is an interdisciplinary research institute focused on global health research, education, and policy. To realize its vision of ‘access to high quality health care for all’, AIGHD closely collaborates with implementing partners and organisations from public and private sectors around the globe.

AIGHD works by linking expertise, resources, and programs of organisations involved in health-related research, education, capacity building, and policy making to bring a delivery perspective to health research, and a quality aspect to health care services. Together with its global network, AIGHD is pioneering innovative approaches to the delivery, financing, and improvement of health care in resource-limited settings.

Virology Education (VE) is the leading provider of top quality and accredited programs for scientific interchange, knowledge sharing and education for the healthcare professional. With nearly 20 years of experience, VE is committed to supporting the healthcare community in the process of discovering, researching, treating and ultimately, curing viruses and infectious diseases.

VE takes on the role of identifying needs, driving new initiatives, designing tailored programs, developing educational and scientific content, and handling the face-to-face logistical management of programs.

Alongside its network of the world’s leading experts, a database of over 26,000 opt-in subscribers and a comprehensive in-house team of skilled professionals, Virology Education is able to produce relevant and high-level content within the HIV, hepatitis, co-infections, tuberculosis, emerging viruses, NASH, liver disease, pharmacology, and oncology fields.

News embargoes for studies presented at the INTEREST workshop lift at the conclusion of the session in which the study is presented. For example, if a study is presented from 2:15PM to 2:30 PM, as part of a session that ends at 3:00 PM, the embargo on reporting on that study and the prohibition on distribution of press releases on that study lift at 3:00 PM.

Abstracts: Abstracts submitted and accepted cannot be shared in part or full before 9am (UTC+2) May 16th 2017, the first day of the conference.
Poster presentation embargo: All plenary presentations, debates, symposia, and oral and mini-oral abstract presentations are subject to the above news embargo conditions. Journalists who would like to report on a specific poster presentation must discuss this proposal first with the conference Scientific Chair.

Social media: The INTEREST embargo policies apply to any public dissemination of research information presented at the meeting, including through electronic publication (e.g., blogs) or social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). No public dissemination of research information from the meeting is permitted prior to the lifting of the conference embargo.

Individuals or organizations that violate the conference embargo policy may have their conference credentials revoked, and may not be permitted to participate in future meetings.