Each of the two field teams for the Botswana Combination Prevention Project (BCPP) consists of 16 Research Assistants (RAs), seven drivers, two supervisors, two lab assistants, and two IT assistants. Team members come from across Botswana. In addition to Setswana, many of the RAs speak other local languages. They range in age from early 20s to late 30s. Many of them worked as HIV counselors before joining the team. Continue reading →
Because of his own history, Dr. Mompati Mmalane had ideas about how best to introduce a complex clinical trial to communities like Shakawe, a remote village in northwestern Botswana.
HIV is no stranger to rural villages. Although the national adult prevalence is 24%, the rate is much higher in some villages. Older adults remember the days before antiretroviral treatment (ART), when Saturdays were crowded with funerals for friends, relatives, and neighbors who had died of AIDS. Continue reading →
From: Scott Dryden-Peterson
Sent: Friday, June 19, 2015
Subject: BCPP milestone
Today we completed mapping of the last study community. In one of the many remarkable behind-the-scenes contributions that has made a project of this scale possible, during nights and weekends over the past 18 months, Oaitse (cc’d here) single-handedly identified and labeled ~73,700 households from Ranaka to Shakawe. We are indebted to you, Oaitse.
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever meet anyone more focused than Max Essex. A 1986 New York Times profile described him as “mild mannered” with “a thatch of thick hair” and “among those in the forefront of the worldwide effort to find a cure for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.” Today, though his hair is white, that description still fits. Essex, now in his 70s, still arrives at the office by six o’clock most mornings and spends long days planning and improving research projects around the world. He remains, as the Times reporter described, “deeply exercised about the fate of AIDS patients.” Continue reading →
The end of AIDS as a public health threat may not come from an effective vaccine, as many had hoped for decades, but from a collaborative effort across nations to prevent new HIV infections. The epidemic that spread mainly through sexual connections may be subdued not from a single breakthrough, but through long-term transnational collaborations. Continue reading →
Elliot Eton had just graduated from high school when he ended up in Essex’s office. After receiving his acceptance letter to Harvard, Elliot assumed he’d begin college in the fall with the other freshmen. Then he read a letter from the Dean of Admissions, encouraging students to consider a gap year. Continue reading →
We wanted to update you on Dr. Iain MacLeod, another young HAI researcher, who is building a biotech start-up around a rapid HIV drug-resistance test that he and Dr. Christopher Rowley developed in the Essex Lab. Continue reading →
Kudos to Dr. Ireen Kiwelu who, on September 24th, successfully defended her PhD thesis, “The molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 among female bar and hotel workers in Moshi, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.” Her work was supervised by Drs. Max Essex and Vladimir Novitsky at the Harvard AIDS Initiative. Born in Moshi, Tanzania, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Kiwelu was educated in Tanzania, Denmark, England, and Norway. She returned to her hometown to work as a Senior Research Scientist at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.
Should babies infected with HIV in utero be put on anti-HIV drugs immediately after birth? Can very early treatment allow some children to eventually control the virus on their own? HAI researchers are helping to answer those questions. Continue reading →
Imagine that you’re a young woman in southern Africa, giving birth to the child you’ve carried for nine months. Between the pain and the pushing, you feel both excitement and dread. At the antenatal clinic several months ago, you learned that you were infected with HIV. The doctor gave you antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to prevent your child from being born with HIV. You pray that they worked.