Mmegi Online ::> BHP studies look beyond the HORIZON
Mmegi.bw, ERNEST MOLOI, 2/7/2003 11:02:25 AM (GMT 2)
"BOTSWANA is poised to start clinical trials for a preventive AIDS vaccine in the first quarter of this year. The task - a grand design under the aegis of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) - is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of America. The trials will be carried out in the United States and Botswana The vaccine to be tested in Botswana was not developed by researchers at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP). But much of the continuing work of BHP researchers studying the HIV-1C viruses, which is prevalent in Botswana; and the immune response genetics of the population, has and will continue to contribute to scientists developing HIV vaccines in the country and the world....The BHP laboratory is one of the most sophisticated facilities in Africa dedicated to HIV treatment and research. Other completed studies include 'Genetic Analysis of HIV-1C in infants', which offers a better understanding of how HIV is passed from mother to infant. By this study, viruses from HIV infected infants is compared to those from blood samples, breast milk and 'cervico-vaginal fluid' from their mothers. The viruses from different sources are then analyzed for 'replication potential and gene sequence.' In the study, researchers hope to identify the signature patterns that indicate the route of transmission of HIV from mother to child. The information will be used to develop interventions that can improve the prevention of mother to child transmission. Yet another ongoing study on the PMTCT, known as the Mashi Study (Milk) started early 2001. It is investigating the possibility of adding a second anti-retroviral drug, nevirapine- to the current national program, which offers zinovudine (AZT) to HIV-infected pregnant women. Alongside the study, the BHP through the financial help of the US-based National Institute of Health (NIH)- is running an Infant Health Outcomes Study to investigate the "effects of infant feeding patterns on the health and vigour of infants." Through the study, researchers are monitoring the "rates, etiologies and outcomes of diarrheal and respiratory diseases and bloodstream infections among infants born to HIV positive mothers, who breast feed or formula feed, and the association between infant outcomes and the immunologic factors in breast milk."