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Keystone Symposia to Mark 25th Anniversary of its First HIV/AIDS Meeting

SILVERTHORNE, Colo., March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology will mark the 25th anniversary of its first HIV/AIDS meeting in 1984 when it convenes its scientific conferences on "Prevention of HIV/AIDS" and "HIV Immunobiology: From Infection to Immune Control" at Keystone Resort in Colorado, March 22-27, 2009. More than 850 scientists from around the world will attend.

These joint conferences will commence with a keynote address by Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, the 2008 Nobel Laureate in Medicine. In the mid-80s, Barre-Sinoussi co-discovered the virus that causes AIDS - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) - along with colleague Dr. Luc Montagnier. Barre-Sinoussi is Head of the Retroviral Infection Control Unit at Institut Pasteur in Paris and won the 2008 Nobel Prize for this discovery.

Keystone Symposia's first conference on AIDS in 1984 was widely credited with catalyzing a consensus that AIDS was caused by a retrovirus. It was also the first open scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to the topic.

While there is still no cure or vaccine for AIDS, various advances in anti-retroviral drug therapy have prolonged life for those living with the virus. According to UNAIDS, 33 million individuals worldwide were estimated to be infected with HIV in 2007, and there were 2.7 million new infections and 2 million deaths worldwide.

The conferences are part of the Keystone Symposia Global Health Series, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of this support, the foundation has funded 85 Keystone Symposia Global Health Travel Awards. These make it possible for scientists, postdoctoral scholars and students from countries where the disease is especially prevalent to travel to the conference. In addition, IAVI (International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) funded four awards. The winners come from 46 countries, and, for many, it will be their first visit to the US. The interaction of those working on this major public health issue from so many regions of the world allows for an unprecedented level of global cooperation in moving toward new solutions.

According to Dr. Brigitte Autran, lead scientific organizer of the "Prevention of HIV/AIDS" conference, "Twenty-five years after the first Keystone Symposia meeting on the subject, the 2009 Keystone Symposia meeting on HIV vaccines and prevention aims at stimulating new ideas and strategies to challenge the unmet goal of an efficient vaccine against HIV."

In 2010, Keystone Symposia's traditionally joint annual HIV/AIDS meetings on Prevention and Pathology will follow a different format. There will be a meeting entitled "HIV Biology and Pathogenesis" in Santa Fe in January, followed by joint meetings on "HIV Vaccines" and "Viral Immunology" in Banff in March. Since an HIV vaccine is proving to be a particularly recalcitrant problem, the goal is to bring together virologists studying multiple diseases, thereby facilitating a wider cross-fertilization of ideas. This is in keeping with Keystone Symposia's mission of mixing topics not always discussed together in novel ways, so as to stimulate new ideas and debate.

In addition, there will be an October 2009 Keystone Symposia Global Health Series conference entitled "Overcoming the Crisis of TB and AIDS." It is tentatively scheduled for October 20-25, 2009 in Arusha, Tanzania. The deadline to apply for Global Health Travel Awards is May 19, 2009.

Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Summit County, Colorado, has been conducting open, international scientific conferences since 1972. Annually, Keystone Symposia holds more than 50 meetings involving at least 13,000 scientists.

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SOURCE Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology
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