February 20, 2023
Last night in Seattle (and world-wide via a public live-stream), the 30th annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) kicked off with what was on all accounts a remarkable opening session. At the first in-person meeting of this high-science meeting since 2019, the energy and inspiration could be felt in the room.
The opening session featured Alan S. Perelson, a mathematician and one of the founders of the field of viral dynamics, who showed CROI’s history in presenting landmark discoveries, using math theory and basic science, that ultimately led to effective treatment for AIDS. Kevin DeCock, formerly of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discussed a decades-long global struggle against global health threats from disease, the ongoing challenges from forces such as climate change, and global conflict, and the unfinished commitments that will advance global health security.
But it was Yvette Raphael of APHA, a passionate advocate and long-time AVAC partner, who provided the Martin Delaney Presentation, and who captured the attention of the 3,000 people in the room. Yvette reminded everyone that these unfinished commitments still land most heavily on African women. She reminded everyone of the essential power of activism to demand justice and equity.
Read Yvette’s full presentation here and watch her remarkable slide presentation that played while she spoke here, which gave voice to the women on whose behalf Yvette spoke. You can also hear Yvette on A Shot in the Arm Podcast with Ben Plumley: Live from CROI 2023!
The session concluded with a history lesson from Anthony Fauci, former head of National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who took attendees through 30 years of collaboration fostered at CROI and research and breakthroughs presented at CROI, including antiretroviral therapy, treatment as prevention, oral PrEP, Undetectable = Untransmittable, cure, vaccines and a look ahead to long-acting PrEP. And he reached out especially to the young scientists and advocates in the room with a message of confidence and plea: we can end the HIV epidemic if we follow the science and apply the science, but it must come from you, he said, it depends on you. More from Anthony Fauci on the future in this AVAC webinar, Much Accomplished, Much to Do: A Conversation Looking Back & Looking Ahead.
Both Yvette and Tony referenced each other in their talks and both received standing ovations, and that makes sense because their messages cannot be separated. Science and advocacy need each other today as much as they ever have.
P.S. Don’t forget to register for the daily Margarita Breakfast Club sessions (CROI registration not required)
Tuesday, February 21, 7:00 AM PST – 8:00 AM PST
Moving Forward: Upcoming Strategies on STI Prevention
Zoom registration link: https://tinyurl.com/movingforwardsti
Wednesday, February 22, 7:00 AM PST – 8:00 AM PST
The Data Gap: Filling in the Missing Perspectives on Women and Children in HIV Research
Zoom registration link: https://tinyurl.com/datagap