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By Karine Dubé

 

The 2016 Women’s Research Initiative on HIV/AIDS (WRI) meeting took place in Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, South Carolina from December 1 – 4, 2016. The theme for this year’s meeting was: Women in HIV Cure Research: Advocating for, Discovering and Delivering a Cure.

The meeting focused on women across the entire spectrum of HIV cure research, from basic sciences, to clinical study participation, ethics and stakeholder engagement, advocacy, policy and funding. While HIV cure research has received much attention in the HIV research community in recent years, women remain under-represented in clinical studies as well as researchers. This has resulted in a lack of information about how interventions may have different effects in women than in men. The 2016 WRI meeting focused on the role women play in HIV cure research and examined possible strategies to include women’s participation in HIV cure research. The meeting also highlighted ways that WRI (http://www.thewellproject.org/womens-research-initiative-hivaids-wri-overview) can help advance women in HIV cure research moving forward.

Presentations focused on:

  • Current state of HIV cure research and the path forward
  • The basic science of HIV cure research, including sex-based differences
  • Opinions about HIV cure research among people living with HIV in the United States
  • Ethical questions associated with HIV cure research
  • Policy issues and advocacy related to HIV cure research among women
  • Stakeholder engagement in HIV cure research

As we move forward, we will need clearer guidelines on reporting HIV cure research findings for women and men. It was recommended to disaggregate HIV cure research data by sex moving forward in all HIV cure-related grant proposals and publications.

There will also need more attention paid to specific ethical issues of incorporating women in HIV cure studies, such as the role that women of child-bearing age can play in the research agenda.

The meeting also elevated the role and contributions of the social sciences in HIV cure-related research.

The 2016 WRI annual meeting report will be available at: http://www.thewellproject.org/wri-annual-meetings

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