AIGHD-led workshop paves way to addressing three of the biggest global health epidemics

A one-of-a-kind workshop co-led by AIGHD brought together researchers, clinicians and community advocates to help address three major infectious disease threats.

On November 18-19, EECA INTERACT 2019, the first scientific workshop on HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The international event was organized by AIGHD and AFEW International, with support from the Kazakh Scientific Center for Dermatology and Infectious Diseases of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan and AFEW Kazakhstan. Scientific Co-chairs were Prof. Catherine Hankins and Prof. Michel Kazatchkine; the Local Chair was Dr. Baurzhan Baiserkin.

Building on the success of the annual AIGHD-led INTEREST Conference, more than 120 researchers, community representatives, and clinicians from Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and other countries came together to learn about the latest scientific developments and share their experiences in the field of prevention and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and hepatitis. The two-day workshop sought to strengthen the scientific base and shed light on the situation in the region.

EECA is the only region in the world where the HIV epidemic is still growing rapidly. UNAIDS estimates that as of 2018, about 1.7 million people in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region were living with HIV. The EECA region is also home to some 6.6 million people in need of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment and faces the highest levels of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the world.

“It was the first time that an abstract-driven scientific workshop jointly addressed all three of these epidemics in this region. The presentations were of high calibre and the discussions were engaged and lively, assisted by excellent Russian-English-Russian simultaneous interpretation. Feedback was excellent – there is a real appetite for holding another such workshop in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – and soon,” said Prof. Hankins.

EECA INTERACT will be an annual event and will be held in different countries of the EECA region to enable scientists from all countries to hear the latest science and share their discoveries.