The purpose of the study, according to its coordinator, Keatile Sebinang, is to learn how genes may affect individuals. It is also to learn how genes may affect a person's risk of getting HIV or AIDS, and how genes may affect the effectiveness of antiretroviral medications (ARVs).
Finding out which genes might be the most important for HIV may help explain what puts some people at greater risk than others and may help scientists develop better strategies for treating people with HIV and AIDS in different populations.
Four groups of people are included in the study, which comprise HIV negative participants; HIV positive participants who have not yet taken ARVs; HIV positive participants who are taking ARVs; as well as HIV positive patients who have had other illnesses such as tuberculosis or Kaposi's sarcoma and are taking ARVs. Participants should be aged 18 and above. Enrolment of participants for this study will continue until 6,000 participants are enrolled. As in all other studies at BHP, prior to enrolment participants are given consent forms to complete after reading all the requirements and study specific information. Confidentiality is assured and maintained throughout the study.
When asked about this molecular genetic approach, Sebinang explained that BHP and the world have been challenged by the HIV epidemic and as such "seek to discover how best they can approach different populations affected by HIV and AIDS and come up with new developments in HIV treatment."
The Host Genetics Study is being conducted at several BHP research sites in Gaborone (Princess Marina Hospital) and hospitals in Molepolole, Mochudi, Lobatse and shall be extended to council clinics (Old Naledi and Block 9) in a month's time. The study started in January this year. Enrolment from the council clinics in Gaborone shall be open to anyone who meets study requirements, while recruitment within the Princess Marina Hospital is currently focused on recruiting current participants from other BHP research studies.
(Sila Press Agency)