The Indian Council on Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US, will soon begin collaborative research on ‘Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases & HIV/AIDS’.
One of the Indo-US focus areas of collaboration will be on HIV/AIDS treatment and care continuum under which thrust will be on studies using new and expanding technologies and methodologies (e.g. social media, m-health) to successfully recruit, enroll, and retain high risk groups which may be difficult to reach by other more traditional means for HIV testing, linkage to care, and retain in care; and on testing of point-of-care HIV viral load or resistance tests, diagnostic biomarkers or low cost, rapid assays for HIV or TB detection, including diagnosis of drug resistance.
Another area of focus is on HIV transmission and prevention under which thrust will be on studies to better understand tolerance for and stigma of non-heterosexual relationships, such as men who have sex with men and hijras; and studies to develop and/or test combination prevention strategies for HIV/AIDS for high-risk populations e.g., injection and poly-substance users, men who have sex with men, female sex workers, victims of gender-based violence, rural area dwellers, and migrant and destabilized populations, etc.
The joint research programme will also have thrust on HIV and AIDS-associated co-morbidities. Under this, the focus will be on utilsation of new/enhanced therapeutics for HIV-related co-morbidities such as HCV and their impact on disease outcomes; and enhanced targeted outreach strategies for HCV testing, prevention, and treatment/care engagement; integrated approaches for addressing the complex bio-behavioral factors associated with HCV/HIV.
Under translational research, the focus will be on studies to develop and test innovative HIV prevention strategies in young populations, particularly adolescents; and also on studies to better understand linkages between reproductive health options and HIV infection in men and women.
The ICMR has proposed to initiate the process for the next round of funding for the joint Indo-US proposals under the auspices of the Indo-US Joint Working Group on the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS. In this regard a joint Indo-US workshop is proposed to be held in September 2015 to encourage investigators for the Indo-US collaborative projects.