In this episode of HIV unmuted, the award-winning IAS podcast, we take a deep dive into the breaking science being released at IAS 2023, the 12th IAS Conference on HIV Science, and explain why these breakthroughs are so important for people living with and affected by HIV.
Set in Australia, a country that is closing in on the elimination of HIV transmission, the conference highlights the latest research, including more hope for an HIV cure, expanding prevention options and insights into mpox. Guests also help us understand exciting studies on prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease and post-treatment control of HIV in children who are treated early on.
These studies move us in the right direction. Yet, as our last guest makes clear, scientific advances alone can only get us so far. We must address persisting inequalities that remain in the HIV response. And we must put people first.
Meet our guests:
Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, Programme Executive at the World Council of Churches, describes the potential life-changing impact the cutting-edge research has on herself and other people living with HIV. She tells us what it was like to grow up in a conservative Bolivia in the early 2000s without access to life-saving HIV treatment.
Sharon Lewin, IAS President, IAS 2023 International Chair and Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, helps us understand the scientific significance of the breaking science.
James Ward, a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, who is also an infectious diseases epidemiologist and the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Queensland, tells us why the latest science doesn't always reach vulnerable communities.
Gracia Violeta Ross
Gracia Violeta Ross is a Bolivian social anthropologist who has done studies on gender and sexual and reproductive health. In 2000, she tested positive for HIV and since then, she has mobilized communities for free and universal access to HIV treatment and care. She has represented communities and NGOs from Bolivia and Latin America in global bodies, including UNAIDS PCB, the Communities Delegation in Unitaid, the Developing Countries NGO Delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Civil Society Advisory Group for UN Women in Latin America, the TB-HIV Working Group for the Stop TB Partnership and the WHO Civil Society Task Force. Gracia is a public speaker and researcher on HIV, gender-based violence, health and human rights. She has written about her experiences as a rape survivor and as a woman living with HIV. In February 2022, she joined the World Council of Churches to lead its HIV work.
Sharon Lewin is an infectious diseases physician and basic scientist and has worked in HIV-related clinical medicine and research for over 25 years. She is the inaugural Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital. She is an active clinician, working at the Alfred Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital, and a Melbourne Laureate Professor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. Sharon is internationally recognized for her expertise in HIV cure, HIV/hepatitis B virus co-infection and SARS-CoV-2 infection. She leads a large group focused on basic and translational science and early-phase clinical trials for cure interventions and is actively developing antiviral strategies for novel RNA viruses using RNA editing. She was the Local Co-Chair for AIDS 2014, the 20th International AIDS Conference, in Melbourne. She chairs the Advisory Board for the IAS Towards an HIV Cure initiative.
James Ward is a Pitjantjatjara and Nukunu man, an infectious diseases epidemiologist and a leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research. He is currently the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Queensland. In various roles over 25 years in Aboriginal public health policy, he built a national programme of research in epidemiology and prevention of infectious diseases, with a particular focus on STIs, HIV and viral hepatitis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Previously, he worked at the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Baker IDI in Alice Springs and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute. He has served on numerous committees, including the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, Australian National Council on Alcohol and Drugs, CDNA COVID-19 Working Group and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander COVID-19 Taskforce. He has over 120 publications and leads several large-scale public health and infectious diseases studies.