Meet the CIPHER grantees

Désiré Lucien Dahourou

Year awarded: 2020
Institution: Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS)
Research site: Burkina Faso
Primary mentor: Valériane Leroy, Inserm, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse 3

Désiré Lucien Dahourou is a medical epidemiologist and research associate at the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (Institute for Health Sciences Research – IRSS) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. He is currently co-investigator of the ANRS-funded OPTIMISE-AO project (No 12390), which aims to evaluate a strategy for family and professional support for full disclosure of HIV status and strengthening of treatment adherence among adolescents living with HIV in West Africa.

“Adolescents living with HIV in West Africa face multiple challenges, often leading to poor mental health outcomes and treatment adherence. The CIPHER Grant will support essential research to improve quality of care and life for these adolescents.”

Research title: Evaluation of mental health, resistance mutations, and practices of new therapeutic regimen introduction and their tolerance in adolescents living with HIV in West Africa

The issue

Adolescents living with HIV have higher attrition rates, higher treatment failure rates and higher mortality rates than children and adults. This is linked to poor adherence, which may be related to their HIV status being disclosed late and under poor conditions, with associated mental health disorders. Despite this challenging environment, very few interventions have been implemented among adolescents living with HIV, particularly in West Africa, to optimize their response to antiretroviral treatment (ART) and improve their quality of life.

The CIPHER project

Against a backdrop of rising numbers of adolescents living with HIV, increasing mortality rates among this group and the introduction of new ART regimens, including integrase inhibitors, this CIPHER Grant aims to:

  • Measure the prevalence of mental health disorders (depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder) among adolescents living with HIV and identify the associated factors.
  • Study the impact of disclosing HIV status and of mental health disorders on treatment adherence and virological response.
  • Measure the prevalence of resistance mutations among adolescents living with HIV in the cohort experiencing virological failure and study its determinants.
  • Study the prescribing practices of healthcare workers according to the gender of adolescents and the tolerance of new antiretroviral drugs (integrase inhibitors) introduced into care programmes for adolescents living with HIV in West Africa.

This CIPHER project t will be used to carry out a secondary study as part of the French National Agency for Research on AIDS (ANRS)-funded OPTIMISE-AO project (No 12390), a stepped-wedge cluster trial nested in six cohorts contributing to the IeDEA paediatric collaboration (pWADA) in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo. The project will follow approximately 1,000 adolescents living with HIV aged 10-17 year for 24 months to assess the acceptability and efficacy of a package of interventions.

These will be intended to improve the quality and frequency of full disclosure of HIV infection status (before age 12) and to improve treatment compliance according to virological response to optimize the virological suppression rate. The grant will ensure the provision of routine psychological care in order to assess mental health and will also cover part of the cost of biological tests (viral load and drug resistance genotype testing).

The impact

This project is aligned with the scientific agenda of the VIVRADO French-speaking multidisciplinary network, which comprises 19 sites across eight countries of West and Central Africa. It will contribute to improving knowledge about disclosure of HIV status, the burden of mental health disorders and resistance mutations among adolescents living with HIV in West Africa. The results will be disseminated via the VIVRADO network, programme managers and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and will contribute to improving treatment, survival and quality of life for adolescents living with HIV in West Africa.

For more on Désiré Lucien Dahourou:

Web of Science ResearcherID: AAC-5059-2019

Email: [email protected]

1st International Paediatric HIV Symposium in Africa - Virtual Symposium 17-18 November 2021




Annual international workshop on “Children and Adolescents HIV-Exposed and Uninfected”

CIPHER Grant Programme
Awards up to $150,000 to early-stage investigators to address critical research gaps in paediatric and adolescent HIV in resource-limited settings.

CIPHER Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow Fellowship
Provides support to young investigators in sub-Saharan Africa on priority research topics in paediatric and adolescent HIV clinical science.

CIPHER Global Cohort Collaboration
Brings together the largest collaboration of paediatric and adolescent HIV observational cohort networks to answer key questions of global public health.

Research agendas for paediatric and adolescent HIV