Wednesday, 27 January, 2021 (Geneva, Switzerland) — Researchers, advocates and policy makers advancing global efforts to end HIV/AIDS will be honoured with awards at HIVR4P // Virtual – the HIV Research for Prevention Conference, to be held 27 & 28 January and 3 & 4 February 2021. Organized by IAS – the International AIDS Society – HIVR4P is the only global scientific conference dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention research.
“The awards programme at HIVR4P // Virtual recognizes outstanding HIV prevention research, compelling advocacy to curtail the epidemic, and exceptional commitments to safeguarding the human rights of people impacted by HIV,” said IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman of the University of Malaya. “This conference, and these awards, are especially meaningful because they are uniquely focused on the researchers and advocates who are changing the course of this epidemic.”
The following honours will be presented at HIVR4P // Virtual:
Desmond Tutu Award for HIV Prevention and Human Rights
Presented by IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman of the University of Malaya at the conference Opening Plenary, 27 January.
The Desmond Tutu Award highlights the inextricable link between HIV prevention and respect for human rights. Across more than 35 years of work, this year’s Desmond Tutu award recipient, Prof Michel Kazatchkine, has been an unparalleled champion for efforts to ensure that respect for human rights is central to global responses to the epidemic. Professor Kazatchkine has served as Director of the ANRS in France and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, Director of Research at INSERM, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and in critical roles at UNAIDS, WHO and the Global Commission on Drug Policy. In each of these, he has consistently placed at the forefront of his efforts the needs of people affected by the epidemic – including people who use drugs, migrants, survivors of conflict and humanitarian crises and others too often stigmatized and shunned by governments, healthcare systems and law enforcement.
Gita Ramjee Prize
Presented by Gavin Churchyard of TheAurum Institute at the Thursday 28 January conference plenary.
The Gita Ramjee Prize, which includes a cash award of US$5,000, will be presented by The Aurum Institute and IAS. The prize recognizes a leading woman scientist who demonstrates the principles and practices that Professor Ramjee embodied in her life and career: a commitment to evidence, disadvantaged communities and gender transformation. Professor Ramjee, a world-renowned scientist who worked tirelessly to find HIV prevention solutions for women, passed away on 31 March 2020 from COVID-19.
The inaugural Gita Ramjee Prize will be awarded to Prof Nelly Mugo of the University of Washington, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Centre For Clinical Research, Kenya. Professor Mugo is a reproductive health specialist with more than 27 years’ experience, focusing on HIV, sexually transmitted infection and cervical cancer prevention. She was selected for her HVR4P presentation, “Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of 90-day intravaginal rings (IVRs) releasing tenofovir (TFV) with and without levonorgestrel (LNG) among women in Western Kenya,” presented in OA06 Multipurpose prevention technologies (MPTs) for prevention of HIV and pregnancy on Thursday, 28 January at 15.00 UTC.
Omololu Falobi Award for Excellence in HIV Prevention Research Community Advocacy Presented by Olayide Akanni of Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria at the Wednesday, 3 February conference plenary.
Presented by AVAC, the Omololu Falobi Award for Excellence in HIV Prevention Research Community Advocacy pays tribute to the life and work of this noted HIV prevention advocate, and highlights the essential role of community advocacy in HIV prevention research. The 2021 Award recognizes the courageous and inspiring young activists, advocates and community engagement workers who have ensured that biomedical HIV and related research continued safely despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recipient of the Omololu Falobi Award is Winifred Ikilai of the National Forum of People Living with HIV and AIDS Networks in Uganda (NAFOPHANU). Despite the unique challenges presented by COVID-19, this courageous and inspiring young advocate developed creative messages and used multiple mediums and online platforms to engage civil society in Uganda and regionally in important conversations about the dapivirine vaginal ring, HIV vaccines, injectable PrEP and the urgent need to maintain a focus on HIV prevention. Winifred helped develop the “Beyond My Pill Campaign” to advocate for effective implementation of test and treat, and was an effective and outspoken advocate for three-month refills and access to food support for people living with HIV.
Runners-up are Aaron Haruna Sunday of the African Network of Adolescents and Young Persons Development, Nigeria, and Shakirah Namwanje of the Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organizations.
New Investigator Awards
Presented by Maureen Goodenow of the Office of AIDS Research, U.S. NIH, at the Thursday 4 February conference plenary.
HIVR4P // Virtual New Investigator Awards honour some of the finest work presented at the conference by early career investigators in HIV prevention research. One of these, the Mathieson Award to a New Investigator in HIV Research, recognizes the late Bonnie Mathieson for her contributions to HIV research and her dedication in mentoring young investigators. All HIVR4P // Virtual scholarship recipients who are graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or junior faculty members are considered for the awards.
The recipients of New Investigator Awards at HIVR4P // Virtual are:
- Luis Romero of IrsiCaixa, Spain for the abstract, “Role of HLA-E antigen presentation on NK control of HIV infection,” presented in OA05 Innate immune responses: What’s the latest? on Wednesday, 27 January at 17:30 UTC.
- Michael Traeger of the Burnet Institute, Australia for the abstract, “Trends in incidence of bacterial sexually transmitted infections among gay and bisexual men using PrEP in Australia,” presented in OA16 Bottoms up: New insights about rectal infections and HIV/STI prevention on Wednesday, 3 February at 17:30 UTC.
- Alexandra Hauser of University of Regensburg, Germany for the abstract, “In vitro and in vivo analyses of HIV-1 clade C Envelope trimers highlight optimal antigenic profiles of novel HIV-1 Env-based vaccine candidates,” presented in OA15 Env and platform designs to improve antibody responses on Wednesday, 3 February at 17:30 UTC.
- Nathifa Moyo of the University of Oxford, United Kingdom for the abstract, “Tetravalent immunogen assembled from conserved regions of HIV-1 and delivered as mRNA demonstrates potent preclinical T-cell immunogenicity and breadth,” presented in OA12 Gene-based vaccine approaches on Wednesday, 3 February at 15:00 UTC.
- Jacob Files of University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States for the abstract, “Impact of HLA-II associated HIV-1 adaptations on vaccine-induced CD4 T-cell immune responses,” presented in OA09 Integrating and optimizing cellular responses on Thursday, 28 January at 17:30 UTC.
- Annabell Dollah of KEMRI/RCTP, Kenya for the abstract, “I just decided to stop:” Understanding PrEP discontinuation among individuals initiating PrEP in HIV care centers in Kenya and its implications for a public health approach to prevention,” presented in OA07 Are we PrEPared? on Thursday, 28 January at 15:00 UTC.