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The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok is a Special Foreign Activity of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), hosted by the Royal Thai Army and staffed by American and Thai personnel. For more than 50 years, AFRIMS has been the premier platform for the study of infectious diseases of military importance in the Asia-Pacific region.

Today, AFRIMS plays a key role in international HIV vaccine development efforts and works in close partnership with the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) and Thai partners such as the Thai Ministry of Public Health, Mahidol University, the Thai Red Cross, Chiang Mai University and the Royal Thai Army.

AFRIMS boasts high-quality clinical trial support and exemplary sample management and analysis capabilities, and as a result, the program collaborates with many academic and research organizations. It played a critical role landmark RV144 “Thai Study,” a 16,000 person study which was the only HIV vaccine trial to date to demonstrate modest (31%) efficacy of a potential HIV vaccine, and the follow-on studies on the RV144 correlates of risk.

HIV Vaccine Studies

Following the RV144 trial, AFRIMS and MHRP initiated several follow-on clinical studies with Thai collaborators to conduct intensive immunogenicity research related to RV144. The data is informing future clinical research by providing insights into the immune mechanisms generated by the RV144 regimen and the effects of an additional boost. Another proposed study will compare different doses of protein and a different adjuvant developed to try to induce higher and more durable antibody responses.

Follow-On Studies:

RV305 -- Re-boosting RV144 volunteers who received active vaccine with AIDSVAX, ALVAC, or combination vaccines 6 to 8 years after the initial vaccine series

RV306 -- RV144 vaccine regimen + month 12, 15 or 18 boost with ALVAC, AIDSVAX or combination

RV328 -- AIDSVAX alone for intense immunologic assessments

In addition to follow-on studies from RV144, MHRP also leads several acute infection studies in Thailand including:

Early Capture HIV Cohort Study (ECHO) RV217
This ambitious multi-site research study followed a group of high-risk volunteers to gather information on acute HIV infections. This study closed in 2018, and was conducted in East Africa and Thailand.

In this collaboration with the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, samples are collected from individuals receiving voluntary testing and counseling a clinic in Bangkok. Volunteers who were acutely infected were offered enrollment in a study where they immediately received combination antiretroviral therapy—either HAART or MegaHAART—through a separate protocol.

Pre-clinical Research

The capacity to further understand both mechanisms of HIV vaccine protection and potential studies to “cure” or eradicate HIV are strengthened by complementary nonhuman primate studies conducted in collaboration between the AFRIMS Department of Retrovirology and the AFRIMS Department of Veterinary Medicine.

Community Advisory Board

AFRIMS established the Community Advisory Board in 2011 as a formal advisory mechanism for all stage of the research life-cycle. The CAB serves as a formal advisory and includes community representatives, local government officers, and non-government organizations who work the HIV advocacy field. Good Participatory Practice guidelines are applied for fostering relationships with stakeholders and AFRIMS.