The International AIDS Conference is the largest conference on any global health issue in the world. First convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, it routinely attracts more than 10,000 delegates.
Dr. Ian McGowan has been asked to give a talk on the role of the rectal mucosal in HIV risk. This is an area where Dr. McGowan has published a great deal. It turns out that the CD4+ lymphocytes in the rectal mucosa are uniquely vulnerable to HIV infection because, compared to CD4+ lymphocytes in the blood, they have higher levels of CCR5 expression (the target of 5P12 RANTES) and are more activated. Other factors such as rectal trauma during anal intercourse and rectal sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea are likely to increase this risk even further. Unfortunately, as oral PrEP is rolled out rectal STI rates are increasing significantly. This may reflect more people having condomless sex or possibly an increased rate of STI testing in this population. In either case, these developments highlight the need to have broad spectrum microbicide candidates with activity against multiple viral and bacterial STIs.
Dr. McGowan – Chief Scientific Officer, Orion Biotechnology – will try to pull all these threads together in his talk, as they have tremendous implications for the development of rectal microbicides for HIV prevention.