You are here

RV 217

Early Capture HIV Cohort Study (ECHO)

In 2009, MHRP launched an ambitious multi-site study in East Africa that followed a group of high-risk volunteers, tracked their HIV status and characterized progression through the acute stages of HIV infection. This prospective study has captured samples from some of the earliest stages of HIV infection – in some cases within days – along with blood samples collected before infection valuable for comparison.

RV217 concluded in 2018, with more than 5,400 volunteers enrolled in the study and 150 incident cases observed. 235,950 blood-draw visits occurred, and the 86% rate of volunteer visit compliance was key to RV217’s success. Volunteers were enrolled before they begin to show detectable HIV antibodies, and if those found to be HIV-positive were closely monitored for markers of disease progression.

MHRP researchers at WRAIR are still using samples from the study to explore immune responses during this early phase of infection, along with genetic changes in the virus. The success of the study in collecting these unique samples has also attracted world renowned scientists to work as collaborators on the analysis. 

RV217 provided the first characterization of acute HIV infection, and the study’s impact on HIV research will last beyond its conclusion. The New England Journal of Medicine publication stemming from the study has been cited more then 100 times, and 21 additional papers have been published using RV217 samples and data.

RV217 demonstrated that viral and immune events during acute infection are abrupt and decisive, meaning they play a role in later disease outcomes over many years of HIV infection, influencing clinical decisions about early testing and treatment.