International Conference on Viral Hepatitis Postponed

Laird Harrison

September 10, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — Organizers have postponed an international meeting on viral hepatitis on short notice.

The International Conference on Viral Hepatitis (ICVH) 2015 will not take place on September 21 and 22, as scheduled, at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, said Billy Atwell, executive director of the International Association for the Study of the Liver (IASL), a cosponsor of the meeting.

"Regrettably, the postponement was beyond our control and had to do with a sponsorship challenge we could not overcome in time," José Zuniga, PhD, MPH, president of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC), told Medscape Medical News.

Dr Zuniga explained that "a sponsorship commitment was extremely late in materializing," but added, "I do not wish to disclose which, as we need to safeguard the grantor relationship."

"IAPAC and our cohost, IASL, as well as the conference cochairs, remain committed to hosting the conference in 2016," Dr Zuniga said. "Viral hepatitis education for clinical providers of all stripes will remain a need for our respective associations to address as the science of hepatitis B and C virus continues to evolve."

The conference has been tentatively rescheduled at the same location in March 2016, Atwell told Medscape Medical News. Exact dates remain to be determined

Refunds and Reimbursements

Dr Zuniga said the conference cochairs notified participants about the meeting change as early as possible, and registration fees will be refunded unless delegates wish to allocate them to the rescheduled conference. Delegates with nonrefundable airline tickets are being reimbursed, as are delegates who wish to take part in the rescheduled conference who incur change fees.

Hosts of smaller meetings typically pay for speakers' travel expenses.

Registered participants received emails notifying them of the change. "They just said something like 'insurmountable conflicts'," said Nancy Reau, MD, from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who was scheduled to give the keynote address.

Atwell said he estimates that participants received email notification about a month before the meeting was scheduled to take place, which was after some attendees had made their travel reservations. "I had to cancel my ticket," Arun Sanyal, MD, from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, told Medscape Medical News.

About 500 people attended the ICVH 2014 meeting, according to Atwell, which is a fraction of the 9500 who registered for the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD)'s Liver Meeting in 2014 and the 11,500 who attended the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) 2015 International Liver Congress.

 
This meeting had a huge international presence.
 

Smaller meetings can sometimes provide a better opportunity for clinicians to meet top researchers in their field for a reasonable price, Dr Reau told Medscape Medical News. "Some of these smaller forums have very regular attendance by incredibly motivated attendees."

But because of the high ratio of faculty to attendees, small conferences depend more on sponsorships to keep registration fees low, she explained. This is especially true of ICVH because speakers were scheduled to travel from China, England, Singapore, and Spain, among other distant countries. "This meeting had a huge international presence," Dr Reau explained.

According to the ICVH 2015 website, registration fees for the meeting ranged from $100 to $225 per person.

The keynote address Dr Reau was scheduled to present was entitled After the Cure: Looking Ahead in Hepatitis C Virus Management.

Other talks planned included Viral Hepatitis: A Global Snapshot of Challenges and Opportunities; Hepatitis B Virus: When Will it Be a Curable Disease; and Translating Clinical Trial Promise Into Real-World Hepatitis C Virus Treatment Success.

The postponement will result in a 2-year gap between ICVH meetings. The conference has taken place every year since 2011; the 2014 meeting was held March 17 and 18 in New York City.

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