HHS Awards $10.4 Million to Fight AIDS on Three Continents

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced four new grants totaling $10.4 million to provide support for HIV/AIDS research in Peru, Thailand, Cambodia and Russia, four nations that have been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic.

The funds for the awards come from the Comprehensive International Program of Research on AIDS (CIPRA), which is administered by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

"A global crisis demands a global response," Secretary Thompson said. "To control and curtail the pandemic, inexpensive, effective and logistically feasible measures of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention are urgently needed. By building research capacity and infrastructure in countries where the HIV/AIDS burden is highest, CIPRA grants help meet this urgent need."

CIPRA grants are awarded to resource-limited countries. One eligibility requirement is that applications come from countries that have a Gross National Income per capita equal to or less than U.S. $5,000. Since the first awards in September 2001, 33 grants have been made to researchers in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Central and South America. More information on the CIPRA program is at www.niaid.nih.gov/daids/cipra.

"In many countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS, the baseline clinical data and research infrastructure needed to accurately characterize the epidemic are lacking," noted NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD. CIPRA tackles this problem by providing support, including training, tailored to the specific needs of the recipient country. "We hope that research conducted under the auspices of CIPRA will form a foundation for successful clinical trials of treatments and vaccines needed in the battle against HIV/AIDS," he said.

The awards announced today are

A Cambodian Clinical Research Network for HIV and TB
Awarded to: Cambodian Health Committee
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Principal Investigator: Sok Thim

A five-year, $2.6 million grant to conduct a clinical trial to determine the best time to begin antiretroviral treatment in people who are co-infected with HIV and the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. An important objective of the Cambodia CIPRA project is to develop clinical research centers in urban and rural settings that will serve as models of HIV and TB care for Cambodia. The long-term investment in infrastructure development supported by this project will allow the sites to participate in evaluations of novel therapies and vaccines for both HIV and TB as they are developed. The project is supported by a consortium of Cambodian and U.S. agencies and the French Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le SIDA (ANRS).

HIV Pathogenesis, Prevention and Treatment in the Andes
Awarded to: Asociacion Civil Impacta Salud y Educacion (IMPACTA)
Lima, Peru
Principal Investigator: Jorge Sanchez

A three-year, $3.1 million grant to the Asociacion Civil Impacta Salud y Educacion (IMPACTA), will support research on two complementary projects. In collaboration with other Peruvian and U.S. research institutions, the scientists will collect data on the role of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) as a cofactor for HIV transmission and will identify strategies for delivering HSV-2 treatment and promoting HIV prevention techniques. One project will evaluate the effect of daily doses of the antiviral drug acyclovir on levels of HIV shed in genital secretions of men and women who are HIV-positive and who also have active HSV-2 lesions. This will help clinicians better understand how active genital herpes infection influences HIV infectivity.

HIV Research Program in Thailand and Cambodia
Awarded to: Thai Red Cross Society
Bangkok, Thailand
Principal Investigator: Kiat Ruxrungtham

A five-year, $4.6 million grant will evaluate HIV treatment strategies in HIV-infected children in Thailand and Cambodia. Researchers from the Thai Red Cross and the international HIVNAT (HIV-Netherlands/Australia/Thailand) group will compare immediate versus delayed antiretroviral therapy for pediatric HIV patients in sites in Thailand and Cambodia. Perinatally acquired HIV infection can result in severe impairment or death. Early treatment with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs may prevent these severe consequences as well as developmental delays. Experts note, however, that these potential early gains must be measured against the possible loss of therapeutic options due to emergence of drug resistance as well as longer exposure to toxic side effects of the ARVs.

Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS in Adults and Children Awarded to: Tomsk Regional Center for AIDS and other Infectious Diseases Tomsk, Russia Principal Investigator: Alexander Chernov

This two-year, $107,000 planning and organizational grant will allow the Tomsk Regional Center for AIDS and Other Infectious Diseases to develop a comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment research agenda relevant to its growing HIV patient population. The driving force behind epidemics across the Eastern European region is injecting drug use-an abuse that has spread explosively in the years of turbulent change since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases