Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Unit of HIV & Neglected Tropical Diseases was created in April 2015, building on the post-doctoral work of the current head (Johan van Griensven, internist/clinical epidemiologist).
The unit studies the interaction between neglected tropical diseases and other conditions such as HIV coinfection. The current main research area is visceral leishmaniasis (VL)-HIV coinfection in East-Africa. Research is conducted within a research collaboration including Gondar University (Ethiopia), the Drugs for Neglected Diseaseses initiative (DNDi) and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). Within this network, clinical trials have been conducted, evaluating approaches for improving treatment outcomes (combination therapy) and preventing relapse (secondary prophylaxis) in VL patients. An innovative approach towards a VL screen & treat strategy in HIV infected patients at risk of developing VL is currently under study.
Key ambitions for the next years include expanding clinical research projects towards cutaneous leishmaniasis, and consolidating clinical immunological work linked to the clinical research projects.
The unit was also extensively involved in the 2013-2015 Ebola outbreak in West-Africa, with the unit head acting as coordinating investigator of a clinical trial evaluation the use of convalescent plasma as a treatment for Ebola in Guinea (REF).
- Diagnosis and prediction of VL-HIV coinfection
- Treatment of VL-HIV coinfection and cutaneous leishmaniasis
- Clinical epidemiology of VL-HIV coinfection
- Clinical immunological monitoring of VL-HIV coinfection
- Immunopathogenesis of VL-HIV coninfection
- Clinical research during infectious disease outbreaks in resource-constrained settings
As to capacity building, the unit is leading a research and training capacity building project with the University of Gondar, funded by the Belgian government. Education and training activities cover the short course on research methods and evidence based medicine (SCREM), of which the unit head is the course director, contributions to the online antiretroviral treatment course (eSCART) and the training activities conducted within the capacity building project in Gondar.