About the Author: Paul Bouey serves as the U.S. Global AIDS Deputy Coordinator.
Last week, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) convened the inaugural meeting of the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board in Washington, DC. The Advisory Board is chartered by the Department of State as an external advisory group to Ambassador Goosby, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, to help PEPFAR become more efficient and effective in our mission to save lives. Specifically, members of the Board are tasked with providing insight on the latest developments in HIV science and research and advising as to how PEPFAR can use this information to plan for the future. The Board's input will also help to feed into the broader research agenda of the Global Health Initiative. The Board is composed of 48 leaders in global health, many of whom have devoted their careers to ending HIV/AIDS. Members come from a variety of sectors, representing civil society, government, the private sector, and academia.
The insight and recommendations from the Advisory Board are critical to the future direction of PEPFAR. As PEPFAR transitions from emergency response to sustainable country-led programs, we are committed to improving our efforts to contribute to the evidence base around HIV interventions, as well as broader health systems strengthening and integration. The Board will play a key role in helping the U.S. government achieve this goal, and it serves as an important forum to help us build on the successes to date in the fight against global AIDS.
Over the course of two days, the Advisory Board laid the foundation for future discussions focusing on PEPFAR's role in framing research priorities, as well as how we bridge the divide between treatment and prevention. In order to track our progress in the fight against global AIDS, the U.S. government and the Board also discussed improving the way we collect and share data for research across programs.
The discussion came in the wake of promising new developments in HIV prevention research, which fueled the group's enthusiasm for future research efforts. The PEPFAR-supported CAPRISA trial demonstrated that microbicides could help prevent the transmission of HIV to women. Equally promising, the iPrEX study indicated that antiretroviral drugs could be used to lower the risk of infection if taken prior to exposure to the virus. These discoveries, along with the support shown for our work, have inspired hope in the scientific community, and we anticipate ongoing conversations with the Board to build on the progress made in our shared goal to eliminate global AIDS.