Wednesday, 27 June 2012

After failing to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through medical interventions, scientists will now take psychological and sociological routes to demystify this major health problem in the country. They will also find out if interrelationship of domestic violence has anything to do with the spread of HIV

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: After failing to control the spread of sexually
transmitted diseases including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
through medical interventions, scientists will now take psychological
and sociological routes to demystify this major health problem in the
country. They will also find out if interrelationship of domestic
violence has anything to do with the spread of HIV.

Since the spread of HIV and other STDs is largely linked to
behavioural issues, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has
sought the help of scientists to explore psychological, social and
structural issues to bring down the incidence. The study is part of
the Indo-US joint research initiative on reduction of STDs and HIV in
India.

Calling for development of new approaches, the ICMR in its latest
circular noted that “psychological, social and structural issues
increase HIV transmission and acquisition risk”. The country’s premier
medical research body has also sought the help of scientists in
evaluating the interrelationships of domestic violence and HIV
transmission in
longstanding relationships. Behavioural and social interactions will
be the focus of the study.

Apart from finding solution to the problem of STDs and HIV
transmission from psycho-sociological perspectives, scientists will
also take a multi-faceted approach, which includes the role of other
microbes like viruses and bacteria, epidemiological factors and
co-morbidities associated with HIV transmission.

The ICMR’s proposal on new research asks scientists to look into viral
pathogenesis and immunology of HIV/AIDS for development of advanced
diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. There will be preclinical
research to establish clear evidence of physiologically relevant
anti-HIV activity.

Scientists will carry a broad range study of populations including men
and women, who are at-risk for HIV/AIDS infection and uninfected. They
will also study HIV or STD-infected infants and children.

The ICMR will assess the efficacy of newer anti-retrovirals and
anti-retroviral therapy-based approaches to prevent HIV transmission
effectively in India. “The development of safe, effective and
acceptable prevention strategies must integrate efforts to understand
how biochemical, pharmacological and biophysical factors affecting
susceptibility and progression to HIV/AIDS disease interact with the
implementation of a prevention strategy,” the proposal note pointed out.

Specific pathogens of interest for research include drug sensitive and
drug resistant M. tuberculosis complex, parasites including malaria,
viruses such as Herpes Simplex Virus
(HSV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV),
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), and other
AIDS-related oncogenic (cancer-causing) viruses.

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