Institution: National University of Science and Technology
Country of work: Zimbabwe
What is your motivation for engaging in HIV cure and remission research?
Currently, the major challenge in HIV treatment is the lack of therapeutic approaches that recognize, target and eliminate cells harbouring HIV-1 provirus. Undefined cell types and tissues that harbour latent HIV-1 may exist, and defining and characterizing these reservoirs may be important in identifying targets for new therapeutic drugs. As the burden of HIV is much higher in sub-saharan Africa including Zimbabwe, characterizing HIV reservoirs in this population will give greater insight to the problem. It is therefore important for us as local researchers to come up with research questions that will guide and give direction to HIV cure research.
What is your current area of research?
Defining cell types and tissues harbouring latent HIV as possible sources of viral rebound in individuals on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is an important aspect of HIV cure research. In our setting we have a parallel tuberculosis (TB) epidemic and patients still initiate into HAART late. Further, we do not have a platform for routine HIV drug resistance monitoring. We therefore aim to characterize HIV reservoirs in HIV/TB co-infected patients and patients initiating HAART at CD4+ < 200 cells/μl and in the process create a platform for routine HIV drug resistance monitoring and surveillance in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.