13th August 2016

The seminar on Managing HIV – Beyond Viral Control was held at the Regent Hotel.

Dr Wong Sin Yew, in his opening address, informed the participants (family physicians staff nurses, pharmacists and dentists) on the importance of early treatment of HIV infection in both adults and children. This seminar had an interactive component and the participants were provided with voting pads to provide answers to questions posed by the various speakers.

Our first speaker, Dr Lam, discussed the highlights of the 21st International AIDS Conference that was held in July in Durban, South Africa. The global overview of HIV/AIDS was that for the last 5 years, there were 1.9 million persons who became newly infected with HIV annually and 36.7 million were currently living with HIV at the end of 2015. Other topics covered included the Changing Epidemiology, UNAIDS and WHO goals, the Era of PrEP, the Quest for a Vaccine, New Drugs and the Future Ahead. Dr Lam also spoke about the toolbox for HIV Prevention which includes drug treatment, PrEP, condom use, safe sex and responsible behaviour. In conclusion, Dr Lam summarized that :

  • Number of new cases worldwide has decreased since the early 2000s and more people are living with HIV
  • Key populations are women in the developing world, MSM in the developed world
  • PrEP Era is here and governments are grappling with its implementation
  • We understand the virus better and are closer to achieving “eradication” and “cure” Vaksin
  • An effective vaccine may be possible in about 10 years’ time

Dr Limin Wijaya, Senior Consultant at the Dept of Infectious Diseases, SGH, spent some time providing the updates on the long term health care issues related to HIV infected individuals including renal, cardiovascular , bone and malignancy. Dr Limin informed the participants that whilst virologic suppression and immune restoration remain the most important goals of HIV disease management, there is increased focus on long term patient care including chronic comorbidities in parallel with increasing lifespan of patients on treatment.

Dr Wong, our next speaker started his session on the challenges and gaps for a AIDS free Singapore. He then gave an update of the current status of the HIV therapy, the global statistics and the epidemiology of HIV infection in Singapore. He also discussed other topics including self-testing, the treatment guidelines and the challenges in treatment. Dr Wong concluded that :

  • Although treatment works, it is not the solution to end the HIV epidemic
  • Prevention approaches are needed
  • HIV vaccine remains elusive in the next few years
  • HIV cure in its current form is not scalable
  • ‘End of AIDS’ is possible through systematic testing, access to effective treatment, linkage to and retention in care and prevention including PREP
  • We have a lot of work in Singapore before we can become AIDS free

The final speaker, A/Prof Chong Chia Yin , senior consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital, spoke about Paediatric HIV in Singapore. She spoke about the prevention of mother to child transmission, risk factors for perinatal transmission, outcomes of babies born to HIV infected mothers, the vaccinations for HIV infected babies and finally the future of paediatric HIV infection

Feedback provided by the participants was positive with comments that they enjoyed the interactive seminar and rated the seminar topics and speakers highly.

We wish to thank our Infectious Disease colleagues for taking time to join us in providing these updates to our family medicine colleagues. We are grateful to Janssen for supporting this seminar.

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