Collaboration to understand the HIV & STI epi
This year the Institute for HIV Research at the University Duisburg-Essen, Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and several renowned organizations in the field of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases in Europe launched a new project to evaluate the occurrence of new cases and frequentness of HIV, hepatitis A, B and C and the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among at-risk groups in Europe.
The project will also determine the feasibility of testing novel prevention methods such as vaccines and other interventions in the future. The study will be the largest systematic epidemiological study for sexual transmitted infections ever conducted in some European countries and will serve to provide much needed knowledge on these diseases.
Along with the study, a European HIV and STI prevention Network will be established where institutes, universities, clinics and private practices will synergize to understand the spread of the diseases and ultimately develop tools for the management of these infections. STIs are a major global health concern and are among the most common infections worldwide. “Sexually transmitted infections are very common, but only for some of them novel prevention methods are being developed,” says the study lead Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck from the Institute for HIV Research, Germany. “The network will focus on the overall occurrence of STI including most of the common sexually transmitted infections.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 400 million new cases each year of four common STIs: Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Syphilis, and Trichomonas vaginalis. While most of the STIs are treatable with antibiotics, there has been a growing concern for international health organizations of drug resistance. This is in particular the case for gonorrhea, which is becoming more resistant against antibiotics. In these cases, there are only limited treatment options available. The network therefore wants to understand the spread of STIs including HIV and learn what can be done to prevent such infections in the future.
Not only curable STIs are of concern but also HIV infection that can be managed and controlled but currently not be cured. Recent reports of the UNAIDS have shown an alarming increase of HIV infections particularly in Eastern Europe indicating that the HIV epidemic is far from being controlled. The network aims to understand who is at risk of becoming infected with HIV and how new prevention methods could positively impact the epidemic in Europe.
A newly implemented HIV prevention method, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) can effectively protect from HIV infection but it is not widely used in all European countries. The network aims to understand how PrEP implementation in some countries will change the occurrence of HIV and STIs over time.
“We are excited that Janssen Vaccines saw the need to study the occurrence of STIs in these groups and is supporting this network as it will be critical to find new prevention methods for the most affected populations,” says Prof. Streeck.
The study is planned to start beginning of next year in several European cities potentially including Barcelona, Budapest, Bordeaux, Gdansk, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Rome, Szechin, Warsaw, Wroclaw. A similar study is already ongoing in the German cities Berlin, Essen, Bochum, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and Frankfurt. Overall 5500 individuals at increased risk for a sexually transmitted infection will be included in both studies.
Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck, Institut für HIV-Forschung, Tel. 0201/723-4225, firstname.lastname@example.org