In early March, the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) drew together an international assembly of practitioners in Los Angeles, California. Through diverse sessions including plenaries, workshops, seminars and poster sessions, the latest advances and challenges in understanding, diagnosing and treating allergy, asthma and immunological disorders, including immunodeficiency, were addressed.
This year’s conference theme was ‘Prevention and modification of Allergic Disease’, though presentations covered a very broad range of topics on the basic science, clinical and translational aspects of allergy, immunodeficiency, respiratory disease and other immunological disorders. William Blouin, from the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, attended the meeting, using it as an opportunity to connect with colleagues and peers from around the world, while also presenting in two allied health workshops.
The CME-accredited workshop “Advocacy for Patients with Primary Immune Deficiency Disease” addressed the challenges for patients living with primary immunodeficiencies, focusing on strategies for navigating the health care system, including how to encourage patients to be their own advocates, or “expert patients”. The other presenters in the workshop were INGID vice-president, Carla Duff, from South Florida; and immunology specialist nurse Debbie Manning, from Philadelphia.
Keeping pace with evolving clinical practice in immunodeficiency is a definite benefit for attendees of this type of meeting. William reflected that “the pace of the evolution of clinical practice is amazing as are the impact of technology and the advances in genetics.” While the presentations and workshops formed the majority of the conference program, for William, it was the poster sessions that really stood out, since “there are so many ideas evident there and it provides the opportunity to talk to people face to face about their research projects. It also affords one the opportunity to discuss practice issues.”
Caring for immunodeficiency patients on a daily basis is challenging and constantly changing. Conferences such as the AAAAI meeting provide an opportunity for practitioners from around the world to share experiences and best practice, while strengthening networks and personal relationships.