HSL clinical scientists Ana Garcia and Alvaro Guerrero were invited to Montenegro last month to speak at a regional HIV meeting hosted by Justri and supported by WHO. Managed by Dr Mike Youle, an HIV consultant at the Royal Free hospital, Justri is a not-for-profit organisation which works with allies in the healthcare system, patient communities, international agencies and the pharmaceutical industry to build successful responses to HIV and related conditions, such as Hepatitis B and C.
The meeting was held over four days in Bar, Montenegro, in late September. Attendees comprised doctors, nurses and laboratory workers from a number of Balkan countries including Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Health of Montenegro and from pharmaceutical companies, such as MSD and Gilead.
Throughout the course of the meeting, representatives from each country explained their approach to HIV management and presented data on the epidemiology of the infection in their region. “These presentations highlighted the significant challenges many of these countries face in terms of providing high quality care for HIV-infected individuals,” says Ana. “As a specialist in HIV and viral hepatitis resistance, I was invited to talk about the importance of resistance testing and the procedures routinely employed for this purpose. Resistance testing is not routinely available in these countries, so I participated in brainstorming sessions working out how this could be implemented at scale.”
Alvaro led a session on novel serological methods for diagnosing HIV. “It was a great opportunity to highlight some of the work we’re doing here at HSL,” he says. “New diagnostic techniques provide a much quicker and more accurate means of diagnosis. It was a privilege to meet so many healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the quality of HIV testing and treatment in this region, and I look forward to working with them again in the future.”