Navigation Links
Harvard School of Public Health awarded $20 million CDC grant to study HIV prevention in Botswana

Boston, MA A new four-year, $20 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will enable Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of a unique combination of HIV prevention strategies in Botswana. The CDC grant is part of a U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative that commits $45 million to examine the effectiveness of combination approaches to HIV prevention over four years. The largest evaluation of its kind, the research initiative is poised to help partner countries strengthen their efforts to prevent new HIV infections and save lives. For more information about the combination prevention initiative, visit:

Principal investigator Max Essex, professor of health sciences and chair of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, and co-principal investigator Victor De Gruttola, professor of biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics at HSPH, predict that their prevention strategies can reduce HIV infection by at least 50 percent.

Notably, one aspect of the study includes a focused effort to prevent HIV transmission by individuals with a high viral load. "This is the subset of people most likely to transmit the virus," said Essex.

He and his colleagues believe that targeting those mostly likely to transmit HIV can greatly reduce disease incidence and be cost-effective. Essex noted that some researchers have advocated supplying all HIV-positive individuals in a particular group with antiretrovirals, but covering all infected people in populations with high rates of infection can be prohibitively expensive for governments in developing countries.

Another unique aspect of the HSPH study is that researchers will study viral gene signatures (the genomic fingerprint of a virus) to determine the effectiveness of targeting individuals with high viral loads. Using this method can indicate whether new infections originated within a particular village, for example. Identifying viral gene signatures could also determine how much the study interventions are able to reduce infections that can be traced to individuals with high viral loads.

Researchers will also analyze cost savings realized from using the prevention strategies in the study. "The hope is that the strategies will help countries cut costs dramatically," said Essex. "Conducting a study of this type in southern Africa is more logical because HIV infection rates are much higher than those in the U.S. and the results can be obtained sooner."

The study will be conducted in collaboration with the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), a 15-year-old collaborative research and training initiative between the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative and the Botswana Ministry of Health.

In spite of Botswana's significant efforts to curtail the incidence of HIV/AIDS, 25 percent of adults in this southern African country are HIV-positive. To home in on ways to optimize HIV prevention strategies, HSPH and BHP researchers will conduct a randomized study of nearly 50,000 people22,000 in the village of Mochudi, and roughly 28,000 in 16 rural communities. HSPH and BHP researchers, working with Botswana's Ministry of Health, will examine the effects of combining a number of prevention strategies over a four-year period. In addition to treating high viral load, the interventions include

  • Testing and counseling more than 70% of 18- to 49-year-old adults

  • Voluntary circumcision of more than 70% of 18- to 49-year-old adult males not infected with HIV

  • Providing more than 90% of HIV-infected adults with antiretroviral therapy

  • Providing antiretrovirals to 95% of HIV-infected pregnant women in order to prevent disease transmission to their children

These interventions have not been adequately evaluated in combination, said Essex. Using a number of prevention strategies together at the same time should also test whether they have a synergistic effect. According to co-principal investigator De Gruttola, "Studying people as members of village communities rather than as isolated subjects allows for mathematical modeling of the effects of combination prevention strategies in the settings in which they will actually be used."


Contact: Todd Datz
Harvard School of Public Health

Related biology news :

1. Harvard scientists see the early cellular cause of dry eye disease for the first time
2. Harvards engineering school receives $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant
3. Harvards Wyss Institute develops technology to produce sugar from photosynthetic bacteria
4. Harvards Wyss Institute uses natures design principles to create specialized nanofabrics
5. Phosphorous in sodas and processed foods accelerates signs of aging say Harvard scientists
6. New discovery by Harvard scientists aims to correct cellular defects leading to diabetes
7. Harvard research team receives $10M NSF grant to develop small-scale mobile robotic devices
8. Harvard scientists solve mystery about why HIV patients are more susceptible to TB infection
9. Duke, Harvard researchers to monitor bonobo reintroduction
10. Harvard scientist says we are what we eat -- and what we cook
11. Organizational Change Management for Sustainability: The Harvard Case Study
Post Your Comments:
(Date:5/16/2016)... YORK , May 16, 2016   EyeLock ... solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT Center ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded iris ... an unprecedented level of convenience and security with unmatched ... authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and ... global partnership that will provide end customers with ... banking and payment services.      (Logo: ... area for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... 2016 The new GEZE SecuLogic ... web-based "all-in-one" system solution for all door components. It ... the door interface with integration authorization management system, and ... The minimal dimensions of the access control and the ... installations offer considerable freedom of design with regard to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... just published their findings on what they believe could be a new and ... of the new research. Click here to read it now. , ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... BOSTON , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo ... biology to industrial engineering, was today awarded as ... a selection of the world,s most innovative companies. ... at scale for the real world in the ... organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering ... retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as ... the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship ... and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring ...
Breaking Biology Technology: