To Save Women and Children of Southern Africa from HIV and AIDS


Principal Investigator:
Myron Essex, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences

Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Dates of Research:
January 1, 2005 — October 31, 2009


Rates of infection with HIV in southern Africa are about 3-times higher than in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa and more than 100-times higher than in the rest of the world. This discrepancy is much greater when focusing on women and children. While about 90% of the AIDS patients in the US or Europe receive effective treatment, only 2-3% of patients in Africa receive adequate treatment. Even the small fraction of AIDS patients in Africa who do receive treatment are mainly men. Women and children are much less likely to be in treatment programs because of limited resources and a lack of empowerment. The HIV-1 virus that is causing the massive epidemic in southern Africa is HIV-1C, and about one-third of all pregnant women in southern Africa are infected with HIV-1C. This goal of this project is to develop and promote innovative prevention strategies that are designed to protect the most vulnerable members of society, women and children, from acquiring HIV and AIDS. Specific projects will include the design, development, and testing HIV vaccines for Southern Africa; the development of chemoprophylaxis for HIV-infected mothers and their infants to permit breast feeding; the investigation of new drug combinations for HIV-infected mothers to combat drug resistance; and the training of Southern African AIDS experts.