Abstract: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes devastating viral infection culminating in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Despite significant progress in treatment and prevention initiatives, the worldwide incidence of HIV infection continues to increase. Among HIV infected people, hepatitis C virus (HCV) frequently causes co-infection due to shared routes of transmission. The implications of HIV-HCV co-infection are severe on the health, quality of life, and treatment options leading to high mortality of the afflicted patients. This research proposal outlines new approaches to the study of this very important issue in HIV/AIDS. The focus of this proposal is to understand complexity of mechanisms underlying the disease, study immunological and neurological interactions in HIV-HCV co-infection, develop novel animal models to study the pathogenesis in co-infections, and investigate novel preventive and therapeutic strategies to improve the treatment and quality of life, and increase the life expectancy of HIV infected people in Canada and worldwide. The innovative animal models will provide an opportunity for Canadian scientists to make unique contributions to the study of these diseases and to collaborate with leading scientists worldwide. This project will also contribute significantly to the knowledge and the development of immunotherapy and vaccine candidates for the treatment of HIV-HCV infection. Our multidisciplinary approach combining various expertises will increase the potential for success in fighting this dreaded disease.


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The first half of the workshop focused on a review of the existing literature and ongoing operational PMTCT research being done in Malawi. In advance of the workshop, participants were sent the selection of recent literature on various issues in the PMTCT cascade that was to be reviewed so that they may be appropriately prepared for this exercise. After the review, the group was directed to brainstorm, categorize and subsequently define thematic or “cluster” areas of priority for operations research. During the second half of the workshop, the participants self-selected into small groups, each covering one cluster area. The small groups were tasked with further exploring and prioritizing research questions within their cluster, using a combination of information covered in the literature review and the Malawi context expertise held by the group members. Once further research questions were fleshed out and prioritized, the small group then outlined potential proposals. The research proposal outlines were then presented for plenary discussion to the whole group. The last section of the workshop focused on a discussion of potential national collaborations for pursuing defined research clusters and a national prioritization of research questions in relation to Option B+. Next steps were discussed and lead roles assigned within each cluster. Overall, the process generated a qualitative discussion (rather than other methods of prioritizing based on 'points’ and 'voting’ used by WHO) in which consensus between partners was reached.