Western Cape based Desmond Tutu TB Centre (DTTC), in partnership with the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town Health department, have formed part of a study that reveals in-home HIV testing coupled with referral to HIV care and treatment can reduce infection by up to 30%.
The findings were shared at the recent annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in the United States.
Forming part of the largest HIV prevention trial to date, the study involved more than a million people living in urban and peri-urban communities in South Africa and Zambia, with DTTC’s Nulda Beyers and Peter Bock from the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at Stellenbosch University leading the South African research.
This re-affirms Cape Town and the Western Cape as a leading destination for research in the medical sciences, with huge commitments being made by leading institutions investing billions into the Province for further facilitation of research into the medical field.
The recent announcement further endorses the relevance of the destination in hosting related events, to spearhead knowledge sharing and policy-making around pertinent diseases with hostile ramifications for the entire continent.
The International AIDS Society has earmarked Cape Town as a preferred destination on the continent to host the 24th International Aids Conference 2022, with the Society calling on the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division of Wesgro.
The bid is supported by the South African National Convention Bureau and Cape Town International Convention Centre as host venue.
Celebrated as one of the largest medical conferences globally, the event will welcome an estimated 20 000 delegates and will have an estimated economic impact of R512 000 000 during the region's traditional low season.
Convened during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1985, the conference provides a unique forum for the intersection of science, advocacy, and human rights. Each conference is an opportunity to strengthen policies and programmes, to ensure an evidence-based response to the epidemic.
Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International Aids Society and the Chief Operating Office from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation commented: “A much loved and attended conference that energises and resets the focus of the HIV response every two years, the International AIDS conference is a conference that every single person linked professionally in some way to the AIDS field should attend at least once in a life time.
For many, it is a career changing event. It has also led to important, history changing shifts in the journey towards an AIDS free world.”
Already scheduled to take place in the Mother City in October 2020, returning for a 2nd time, is the HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) meeting. Convened by the International AIDS Society, the meeting is the only global scientific engagement focused exclusively on the challenging and fast-growing field of biomedical HIV prevention research. The meeting will bring more than 1 500 of the world’s leading prevention researchers, funders and policymakers for five days of exchange, debate and direction setting for the field.
“Bringing conferences of this nature to the destination further assists in positioning the province as the knowledge hub of Africa, leading the way in latest research to address serious illnesses affecting our country and continent. Cape Town is an award winning meetings destination offering world-class facilities coupled with the capability and attractiveness to host an event such as the International Aids Conference 2022. Not only do we have leading researchers such as the DTTC in our midst, but are surrounded by leading academic institutions who have much to contribute to the conversation in curating a cure. We are honoured to be called on to bid for a conference of this magnitude, and hope to welcome leading researchers from across the globe,” said Wesgro CEO Tim Harris.
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, commented: “The Western Cape has gained a reputation as a leading knowledge hub in Africa, allowing us to attract investment and conferences that boost economic growth for the province. These new research findings prove that we are on the cutting edge of research in the medical field, with leading scientists, researchers and educational institutions driving new discoveries and investment into these areas."
Executive Mayor, Dan Plato, added: “The conference would come at a time when great advances in science are being made in the fight against HIV. We are pleased that Cape Town is seen as a preferred destination to host conferences and events of this size which discuss such important topics. We are also encouraged by the fact that Cape Town is one of the leading spaces for sharing knowledge and formulating policy.”
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, stated: “If awarded, the conference would be the biggest event to be hosted in the city yet. Attracting top researchers, doctors and members of the medical fraternity, the knowledge sharing and legacy opportunities that will come from a conference of this magnitude are unsurmountable.”
Wesgro is Cape Town and the Western Cape's official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, and receives its mandate and funding from the Western Cape Government's Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the City of Cape Town.