INTEREST Conference on HIV in Africa is next week

Next week is the 15th annual INTEREST Conference―the premier scientific conference for HIV Africa! Now is your last chance to register for this exciting event from 12-14 October. Just like the conference held in December of 2020, this year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To make INTEREST a COVID-friendly event, Prof. Kwasi Torpey and the organizing team behind the event have innovated to improve the digital conference experience. This virtual conference features content such as virtual exhibition spaces to meet and network with industry leaders in healthcare and medicines, a meeting hub to allow attendees to live chat, video call and schedule meetings and the opportunity to take conference notes directly within the portal, which can be shared with other attendees.

Not only has COVID-19 impacted the virtual delivery of the INTEREST conference, but the pandemic has also influenced INTEREST’s content. One talk, given by Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, is dedicated to analyzing COVID-19 vaccine access in Africa and manufacturing options. Additionally, Dr. Jean Nachega from Johns Hopkins University and Stellenbosch University will discuss the intersections of HIV and COVID-19. However, lectures related to COVID-19 are not the only instances that showcase how the content of the symposium reflects changing times in HIV prevention and treatment.

With rates of new HIV infections decreasing rapidly in Sub-Saharan Africa following successful health interventions, Dr. Paula Munderi of UNAIDS will give an update on the 2030 target to end AIDS. Also, novel technologies and medicines will be featured, such as new HIV prevention methods for women, which will be discussed by Dr. Nyaradzo Mgodi of the University of Zimbabwe Clinical Trials Research Centre. Dr. Casper Rokx of Erasmus University Medical Centre will discuss the status of scientific research on a possible HIV cure. Clearly, much of the content for this conference is forward-looking, addressing what has changed in the past decades of HIV interventions in Africa and what ground there still is to cover.

Additionally, certain particularities of HIV on the African continent will be discussed, such as HIV co-morbidities and HIV in young people. Dr. Dorothy Mbori-Ngacha of UNICEF will discuss the elimination of HIV in children while Dr. Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka of Makerere University College of Health Sciences in Uganda will discuss detecting and managing antiretroviral treatment failure in adolescents and children. Dr. Lameck Chinula of the UNC project in Malawi will discuss prevention of cervical cancer in HIV+ women in low- and middle-income countries. This emphasis on issues specifically pertaining to HIV in Africa speaks to the mission statement of INTEREST- to build health capacity within the continent and allow a new generation of African scientists and healthcare professionals to connect and make their contribution to HIV treatment and prevention on the continent.

Because cultivating young researchers, scientists and healthcare workers is an important crux of INTEREST, this event will offer parallel skill-building sessions. One segment will be an abstract and grant writing session, mediated by Dr. Guido Ferrari of Duke University, Dr. Nadia Sam-Agudu of the Institute of Human Virology in Nigeria, and Dr. Nagalingeswaran Kumarasamy of the Infectious Diseases Medical Centre in Southern India. Additionally, there will be a mentoring session for young scientists led by Dr. Anna Laura Ross of the World Health Organization, and Dr. Peter Kilmarx of the ​​Fogarty International Center, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

From practical coaching for burgeoning researchers to cutting-edge scientific content to virtual networking tools, INTEREST 2021 is proof of the fact that the torch of this conference only grows bigger and brighter each year.

We are excited to announce that the 2022 INTEREST conference will return to its roots in Kampala, Uganda. However, before you book your tickets to Kampala for next May, please register for INTEREST 2021 to see what the future holds for this conference.