CAHR thanks the dedicated work of the CAHR 2023 Scientific Planning Committee and the leadership of co-chairs Drs. Jérôme Estaquier and Cecilia Costiniuk.
CAHR also thanks its sponsors – in particular Gilead, ViiV and Merck — without whose generous contributions year in and year out, CAHR would not be able to host this great conference.
Conference Theme: A Boomerang Effect: From HIV to SARS-CoV2 and Back again
Like HIV, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for scientific advancements, and lessons learned from HIV have contributed to this progress. We have seen the rapid emergence of test strategies for SARS-CoV2 detection. The new era of “Omic” strategies have enabled us to address SARS-CoV2 pathogenesis. Pathogenic processes of both viruses induce early immune perturbations beyond cellular infection and viral replication. Interesting parallels have been drawn between HIV and SARSCoV2 by invoking concepts of early lymphopenia and persistent systemic inflammation. Rapid spread and different waves of COVID-19 variants demonstrated, again, that viruses have no geographic boundaries, and that we all have a part to play in curbing the pandemic. Thus, the mask for COVID-19 was almost a metaphor, as the condom was for HIV, but the many safety practices we had to adopt during COVID-19 also prepared us for living with the unknowns accompanying the pandemic. On the treatment front, development of over 20 monoclonal antibodies, based on strategies to block HIV entry and now to target variants of concern, has been tremendous. Our experience searching for an HIV vaccine helped us develop a COVID-19 vaccine, building upon molecular elucidation of the SARS-CoV2 genome and host cell entry. Thus, more than 80 vaccines were in development soon after the pandemic. In fact, the advent of safe and effective vaccines against SARS-CoV2 has been one of the greatest successes. However, drug repurposing has been less successful, and we still have few antiviral drugs for COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted many of the same inequalities that shaped the HIV epidemic and underscored the importance of addressing social determinants of health. Like the early days of the HIV pandemic, social isolation and disruptions in social networks were experienced by many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. These social restrictions were also part of the “boomerang effect,” and remind us of restrictions experienced during other pandemics. Finally, like for HIV, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in high numbers of lives lost and economic costs due an invisible microbe. However, as people flee from war and famine, we also see fleeing of HIV, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Fighting pandemics requires investments, innovation, and strong commitment by everyone. During our first in-person CAHR since the pandemic, an underlying goal of this conference is to reflect on both advancements and setbacks during the pandemic and lessons learned. Here, we will refocus ourselves in order re-tackle the 90/90/90 goals with new perspectives.
Below is an overview of the Conference proceedings.
CAHR 2023 Sponsors
The Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) gratefully acknowledges the companies and organizations which contribute to the Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS Research. These generous donations make it possible for CAHR to hold the national conference each year.