HVTN at the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal

HVTN researchers and faith leaders will address HIV and SARS-CoV-2, neutralizing antibodies, future directions for research, lessons from COVID-19 community engagement, overcoming HIV stigma and discrimination, and more

SEATTLE (Thursday, July 28, 2002) -- Scientists, doctors and other health professionals from the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) will present research findings and other HIV-related news at AIDS 2022, the International AIDS Conference taking place virtually and in person in Montreal, Canada, July 29 to Aug. 2.

HVTN, based at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle with an international network of AIDS and HIV experts, will be involved in more than a dozen oral, poster and other presentations. Abstracts and information are embargoed until 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday, July 28, but arrangements can be made in advance for interviews with presenters. 


Here are summaries of several representative sessions.

High prevalence of asymptomatic omicron carriage and correlation with CD4+ T cell count among adults with HIV enrolling in COVPN 3008 Ubuntu clinical trial in sub-Saharan Africa

Dr. Jessica Andriesen, a senior staff scientist in vaccine and infectious disease who will make this presentation, said the Ubuntu study (CoVPN 3008) provides the opportunity to further understand the COVID-19 pandemic in people living with HIV. People living with HIV make up approximately 80% of the about 11,300 individuals enrolled as of July 1, 2022. The planned analyses include the effectiveness of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines against symptomatic and severe COVID-19 illness caused by variants of concern, and the immune response to mRNA vaccination in people living with HIV.  As Ubuntu began enrollment, a high percentage of participants who were joining the study were found to be living with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections at their first vaccination visits. Participants living with HIV who had low CD4 counts were more likely to also be living with SARS-CoV-2 infections, whether or not they already had antibodies from an infection in the past. “These findings highlight the urgent need to better characterize how being immunocompromised due to HIV impacts a person’s chances of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, and their ability to clear the infection and fully recover,” Andriesen said.

Session type: Oral presentation. Late Breaker Track C.
Date, time, location: Tuesday, Aug. 2, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., Room 517d/Channel 2.

 

Administration of the broadly neutralizing, CD4-binding site targeting antibody VRC07-523LS in dual- and triple-antibody combinations with 10-1074, PGT121, and/or PGDM1400: impact on pharmacokinetics compared to VRC07-523LS administration alone

“We found in the antibody-mediated prevention (AMP) studies that a broadly neutralizing antibody could prevent HIV infection, but only if the infecting strain was very susceptible to the antibody,” said first author and presenter Dr. Stephen R. Walsh, an infectious diseases specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “To improve on this, we are testing newer antibodies that cover more strains of HIV, and we are testing combinations of these antibodies to try to get broader coverage of global HIV diversity. One antibody we are testing is called VRC07-523LS, and it covers more strains of HIV than the AMP antibody. The VRC07-523LS antibody has a half-life in the human body of about 55 days which means we wouldn’t have to give it to people as often as the AMP antibody. When we combined VRC07-523LS with other anti-HIV antibodies, the half-life in the human body was about 52 days, which really isn’t any different. This is important because it shows that the level of VRC07-523LS in the body is unchanged if it’s given alone or in combination with other anti-HIV antibodies.”

Session type: E-poster.
Date, time, location: Sunday, July 31, beginning at 3:30 p.m., on the conference website and in the Palais des Congrès, second floor.

 

“These findings highlight the urgent need to better characterize how being immunocompromised due to HIV impacts a person’s chances of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, and their ability to clear the infection and fully recover,”

Jessica Andriesen

Analysis of the HVTN 702 Phase 2b-3 HIV-1 vaccine trial in South Africa assessing RV144 antibody and T cell correlates of HIV-1 acquisition risk

First author and presenter Dr. Zoe Moodie, a senior staff scientist in the vaccine and infectious disease division at Fred Hutch, said this study addresses the critical question of whether the immune responses that correlated with HIV in the RV144 Thai trial also apply to other vulnerable populations. “Although the related vaccine regimen studied in HVTN 702 in South Africa did not prevent participants from getting HIV, the trial gives us a unique opportunity to answer this important question and hints about why the vaccine regimen did not work,” she said. The study showed that among vaccinees with a certain type of high binding antibody response, vaccine-specific CD4+ T-cell responses were associated with 51%-60% lower vulnerability to HIV. On the other hand, among those with low binding antibody responses, CD4+ T-cell responses were associated with a 2.2- to 3.6-fold higher vulnerability to HIV. “Our findings are in line with the correlates results from RV144, raising the possibility that vaccination needs to induce high binding antibody responses, along with strong CD4+ T-cell responses, to achieve protection from HIV,” Moodie said.

Session type: Poster. Late Breaker Track A.
Date, time, location: Saturday, July 30, 9 a.m.

 

Immune correlates analysis of the Imbokodo HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial

First author and presenter Avi Kenny, a PhD student in biostatistics at the University of Washington, said this presentation is on the Imbokodo clinical trial (HVTN 705) that enrolled 2,600 women in sub-Saharan Africa and was designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a novel Ad26 vector-based HIV vaccine. “Although the vaccine did not show significant efficacy to prevent HIV-1 acquisition, a secondary analysis assessed whether any of a prespecified set of antibody and T-cell biomarkers were associated with risk of HIV acquisition or vaccine efficacy.  While there were no statistically significant associations, the subgroup of vaccine recipients with highest levels of a specific biomarker measuring antibodies that bind to the surface of an HIV envelope protein had the lowest rate of HIV-1 acquisition,” Kenny said. “This hypothesis-generating finding provides a useful direction for future vaccine research, indicating a goal post to favor candidate vaccines that generate more frequent and higher levels of the specific biomarker.”

Session type: Oral presentation. Late Breaker Track A.
Date, time, location: Saturday, July 30, 11:47 a.m., Room 511/Channel 7.

 

"This hypothesis-generating finding provides a useful direction for future vaccine research, indicating a goal post to favor candidate vaccines that generate more frequent and higher levels of the specific biomarker"

Avi Kenny

COVID-19 and HIV: Community engagement lessons learned and applied from two pandemics

Lessons learned about community engagement from the past 20 years of HVTN trials informed the success of similar efforts in support of COVID-19 vaccine research. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine studies are reaching their conclusions, what lessons can be applied back to HIV vaccine research as those studies resume? The presenters will share how the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN) built on prior community engagement successes in the HVTN, the success of these efforts in COVID-19 vaccine studies, including enrollment of BIPOC communities, engagement of faith-based organizations and Native American or Indigenous communities, the use of a participant screening registry, and the use of infographics and video for social media and marketing campaigns. As HIV vaccine studies begin to resume, the presenters will also share how these COVID-19 successes are being applied back to HIV research, addressing pre-pandemic challenges with slow study enrollment. This Global Village session will be presented and moderated by Gail Broder, associate director of HVTN’s Social Behavioral Science & Community Engagement Unit, and Dr. Stephaun Wallace, director of External Relations at HVTN. Additional participants and panelists will include HTVN community engagement project managers Rafael Gonzalez, U.S. and Puerto Rico; Kagisho Baepanye, eastern and sub-Saharan Africa; Luciana Kamel, Argentina and Brazil; and Patricia Segura, Mexico and Peru.

Session type: Global Village Session.
Date, time, location: Sunday, July 31, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Global Village Channel/Room 2.

 

Interfaith Preconference: Taking Action to Overcome HIV Stigma and Discrimination

Ahead of AIDS 2022, Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III, founder of UBtheCURE LLC, will co-facilitate a two-day event featuring workshops, networking opportunities and presentations by and for faith leaders targeting HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Among session topics are:

  • Recommendations of persons and communities affected, in dialogue with faith leaders.
  • Theological principles that guide faith groups to overcome stigma and discrimination.
  • Leveraging trust and access to sustain epidemic control and advance prevention.
  • Innovations to tackle HIV stigma and discrimination.
  • The impact of new testing tools and methodologies.
  • How optimal HIV pediatric treatment is paving the way to end stigma among children.
  • Long-acting injection to treat HIV.
  • PREP and PEP: essential tools to end stigma.
  • Monitoring and evaluation frameworks that can be adapted to faith interventions to address stigma and discrimination.

UBtheCURE is a Chicago-based consulting company at the intersection of faith, health, and human rights, with expertise in HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Although Burley’s formal training is in immunology and cancer epidemiology, his primary work has been in HIV and AIDS education, awareness, advocacy, and capacity-building in the context of faith.

Session type: Preconference event.
Date, time, location: Wednesday, July 27, and Thursday, July 28, from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. both days, Montreal’s La Plaza Centre-Ville-EVO.

 

Documentary Film Screening: ‘My Faith, My Story: HIV in the U.S. South’

Dr. Ulysses W. Burley, also will host a screening of the documentary “My Faith, My Story: HIV in the U.S. South” on behalf of the U.S. HIV/AIDS Faith Coalition and National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Burley is a co-founder of both the organization and the recognition event. He and Khadijah Abdullah, executive director of Reaching All HIV+ Muslims in America (RAHMA), co-produced the film, and W. Imara Canady, national director of Communications & Community Engagement for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, is featured. All three are HVTN faith ambassadors. The Global Village screening will begin at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday, July 31.

 

HVTN experts will discuss a variety of other subjects at AIDS 2022

Among other subjects covered by HVTN professionals: recruitment strategies in a global preventive HIV vaccine study, broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibody studies, mRNA technology, strengthening industry engagement in vaccine research, ethical and community considerations in experimental medicine trials in Africa, and COVID-19’s impact on vaccine research and development. HVTN will also host an exhibition booth – HIV Vaccine Trials Network: Help End HIV – in the Global Village.

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About Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first National Cancer Institute-funded cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the NIAID-funded HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) and COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN).