UNAIDS to create international scientific consultation panel on HIV

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS is establishing an international scientific expert panel on HIV to ensure the best evidence is used to battle the deadly disease, the agency announced on Monday.

Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, appointed Salim Abdool Karim, an South African epidemiologist, as the chair of the newly established UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel. Sidibé made the announcement in Durban, South Africa, during an opening address at an UNAIDS scientific symposium about the Mississippi baby who was functionally cured of HIV.

The panel will advise UNAIDS on new scientific discoveries, strategic research needs and necessary policy adjustments.

"In the thirty years since HIV was identified, the progress made by science has been extraordinary and its benefits have been felt far beyond those directly affected by HIV," Sidibé said. "To reach the end of the AIDS epidemic, we need to continue to embrace science and innovation and I am delighted that Professor Karim has agreed to take on the leadership of our new UNAIDS scientific panel."

The panel planned to convene its first meeting during the symposium, in which experts will discuss how to improve the early diagnosis of HIV in newborn children and the potential consequences of starting infants on antiretroviral therapy early.

Other members of the panel will be announced in the coming weeks.