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In order to better understand how the immune system responds during the critical moments of early infection, MHRP launched two innovative cohort studies in Thailand and East Africa, RV217 and RV254. By focusing on the earliest stages of infection, scientists hope to understand what’s needed to create an effective HIV vaccine and possibly inform future investigations into a functional cure.
In 2016, MHRP is launching “cure” studies within these cohorts. These small studies will evaluate strategies aimed at inducing HIV remission (controlling virus without the need for long term anti-retroviral treatment). Examples of the interventions are giving HIV vaccines or antibody against HIV. In order to provide maximum safety to the volunteers who come off ART, researchers will screen for viral load every 3-7 days and will immediately resume ART if volunteers do not control the virus.
MHRP researchers are exploring immune responses during this early phase of infection, along with genetic changes in the virus. They also work with leading HIV researchers to analyze data from the two unique acute HIV infection cohorts and identify additional research questions that the cohorts can help answer. Key collaborators include the NIH and academic institutions including Duke, Yale, and UCSF.