From left: RSPH dean Jim Curran, First Lady Jeannette Kagame, HIV/AIDS researcher Susan Allen, Vice Provost Philip Wainwright
Most of the discussion, when Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame recently visited Emory, was not about HIV vaccines, and rightly so. It was about how far Rwanda has come as a country since the 1994 genocide [videos of author Philip Gourevitch discussing Rwanda].
Still,Â while introducing the First Lady and thanking her for her support of HIV/AIDS research in Rwanda, Susan Allen mentioned a clinical trial for a HIV vaccine that began last year in Rwanda, Kenya and the United Kingdom and is now wrapping up the vaccination phase. Her colleague in Kigali, Etienne Karita, is one of the principal investigators.
The vaccine uses replicating Sendai virus, which causes respiratory tract illness in rodents but not in humans, as a vector to deliver the HIV gag gene. The trial combines this vaccine, administered intranasally, in various configurationsÂ with an adenovirus-based vaccine. This is the first time that Sendai virus is beingÂ used in a HIV vaccine.
As IAVI Report’s Regina McEnery explains,Â researchers hope the Sendai vector might recruit targeted immune responses to mucosal tissues and provide an edge to the immune system when it is subsequently challenged by HIV.
In a future post, we plan to provide an additional update on HIV vaccine research, focusing on GeoVax and (separate, for comparison) a planned large-scale followup to the landmark RV144 Thai trial.
On Thursday, NPR had a nicely done story on discordant couples (one partner is HIV positive, the other is HIV negative) in Kenya.
It provided a reminder of Susan Allen’s work in Rwanda and Zambia with discordant couples. It also very simply laid out the policy issues connected with treating discordant couples:
Medical workers are http://www.raybani.com/ extremely interested in discordant couples for two reasons. One is that almost half of new infections in Kenya happen in these relationships. It’s one place where HIV is spreading.Â The second reason is that when couples are open with each other about their HIV status, managing HIV is more successful…
The World Health Organization now recommends that any HIV-positive individual in a discordant relationship be supplied HIV treatment.Â But discordant couples are still being treated on an ad hoc basis in Kenya, primarily because the funding for the medication just isn’t there.
Allen’s research provided critical data about HIV Ray Ban outlet transmission and prevention methods, and led to the adoption of the WHO guidelines mentioned in the story.Â She has said that the WHO guidelines were designed to help partners in a stable relationship work together to prevent the uninfected person from getting the virus and that low-tech, inexpensive prevention methods like condoms are just as important as antiretroviral therapy in this effort.