: In 1998, the US CDC announced the publication of a simple laboratory technique that would allow the differentiation of ‘recent’ from ‘longstanding’ HIV infections. Detection of recent infections with a laboratory test allows one to estimate HIV incidence using a cross-sectional survey. We believed the quest to be able to measure HIV incidence and monitor the epidemic in real time was over. How wrong we were! Eighteen years later we published a paper highlighting the incredible progress that has been made, but also outlined the many difficulties that remain.
The biennial International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science was held in Paris, France in July 2017. This article presents some of the highlights of the conference, including the roll of PrEP and the promise of long-acting injectable ARVs, as well as contributions of SACEMA staff in the areas of HIV and Hepatitis C, and HIV and cervical cancer. Basic, clinical, epidemiological and operational research on HIV and the HIV response must continue to be prioritised even while we strengthen our health systems and improve the implementation of existing interventions.
SACEMA’s 11th annual ‘Research Days’ meeting took place over four days 21 – 24 August 2017, in Stellenbosch. All SACEMA funded students and their supervisors were invited, together with some associates and collaborators. The meeting included training workshops, keynote talks, formal research presentations, student and supervisor forums, and a debate.
SACEMA researchers Alex Welte and Eduard Grebe have written a provocative general-audience reflection on the system of ‘peer review’ in academic publishing. They argue that pre-publication peer review is a not needed anymore and the focus should be on post-publication peer review.
Diseases – like the examples of trypanosomes and HIV/AIDS – are not only perceived as causing negative effects; they also create jobs for people. Hence some people get nervous about what they are going to do when these diseases are under control. And is the latter actually going to happen?
City leaders across the world are showing commitment and are providing political and technical leadership in dealing with local issues and barriers to delivering health and social services where they are needed. Cities are taking action, through their networks and by involving affected communities, to achieving the HIV Fast-Track targets by 2020. Ending the AIDS epidemic in cities will have profound, long-lasting benefits for urban communities and for countries and the global community.
Although a curable disease, tuberculosis (TB) remains a significant cause of mortality worldwide. To create a basis for further research into TB and HIV-associated mortality in Cape Town, we conducted a retrospective analysis of deaths occurring during TB treatment. A binomial log-linear regression model was used to investigate risk factors associated with death during TB treatment. We specifically looked at interactions between HIV infection and various other risk factors towards the risk of death from TB during treatment.
An important goal of research in immunology is to understand the flaws in the human immune system, such that their impacts can be effectively mitigated. Previous work documented flaws in the mechanisms by which the immune system tempers its responses to pathogens in order to avoid harming the host. As explained here, these tempering mechanisms also govern the phenomenon of the original antigenic sin, whereby an encounter with a new pathogen strain preferentially recalls less potent immune responses directed against an older, moderately different strain.
: In the context of an implementation research project, aiming at better aligning targeted services with the general health services, we conducted cross-sectional surveys among a representative sample of female sex workers (FSWs) in four cities. We explored, through structured face-to-face interviews, where FSWs procure commodities and services for sexual and reproductive health. We compared service utilization across the four cities and assessed if it was significantly different.
Abstract: Twenty years ago, in 1997, I wrote the following piece reflecting on the Mothusimpilo project, an early attempt to understand and help to manage the epidemic of HIV in South Africa. I thought it might be interesting for you to look back on where we have come from.