December 2012

World Aids Day HIV-related Research at UCD Campus

Sat, 1 December 12 09:00

World AIDS day on December 1st is marked this year by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, with the theme “Getting to Zero – Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

The latest estimates conducted by UNAIDS, show that there are 700,000 fewer new HIV infections across the world in 2011 compared to 2001. Although the numbers are still high – 2.5 million new HIV infections detected in 2011 – this shows a dramatic decrease, some by as much as 50%, in low and middle income sub-Saharan African countries like Malawi, Botswana and Namibia. The overall number detected as living with HIV/AIDS remains stubbornly high at 34 million people.

The scaling up of antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries has transformed national HIV/AIDS responses and has contributed to an overall reduction in global AIDS related deaths by 24% in the last 6 years alone.

In Ireland the number of new HIV infections reflects the global trend of declining numbers, down 20% from 2008 to 320 new diagnoses in 2011. However, 47% of new infections are diagnosed late which could seriously impact on long-term health. The issue of late diagnosis/presentation for care highlights the need for responsible sexual health practices and regular testing for sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

To this end Dr Paddy Mallon, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Mater University Hospital and Associate Dean for Research & Innovation at UCD School of Medicine & Medical Science has developed The Mater-Bronx Rapid HIV Testing (M-BRiHT) project with Dr Ger O’Connor, an Emergency Medicine Specialist Registrar. M-BRiHT, a collaboration between the HIV Molecular Research Group and experts based in the Jacobi Medical Centre in the Bronx, New York, is based in the Mater Hospital and offers free screening for HIV to patients who attend the Emergency Department.

The test itself is a highly accurate swab of the inside of the mouth and doesn't require a needle or a blood test. Results are typically available in twenty minutes. To date up to 900 patients have volunteered for the study. In those people who are unfortunately diagnosed positive, we offer the advantages of early diagnosis and first class treatment and care.

The Infectious Diseases department at the Mater Hospital is engaged in wide ranging research into HIV infection with the goal of improving the quality of care for patients attending the Infectious Diseases service. We rely on the continued active participation of patients attending the Infectious Diseases service at the Mater for these projects and your support is greatly appreciated. The clinical team are at the forefront of infectious diseases research and their projects involve international collaborative clinical trials and studies as well as in-house studies answering important clinical questions.

Research areas include:

  • Long-term health outcomes in HIV positive patients - the upcoming POPPY Study is an international collaborative study that will examine the effects of ageing in people living with HIV.
  • Cholesterol metabolism - to date 54 patients have been recruited to the Reverse Cholesterol Transport (RCT) Study between here at the Mater hospital and Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London. Dr Mallon has two PhD students examining the effect antiretroviral therapy has on fat distribution around the body.
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Bone disease
  • The HIV UPBEAT Study is a large prospective cohort of HIV+ patients (n = 210) and HIV- subjects (n= 250) focusing on bone mineral density and the pathology underlying bone disease.
  • The management of hepatitis co-infection
  • The action of HIV medications in pregnant women
  • Monitoring of antiretroviral therapy use in poor countries