Professor Frank Tanser and Professor Tulio de Oliveira from UKZN's Africa Centre for health and Population studies were recently awarded a large grant to fight HIV drug resistance and transmission in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The grant, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) Flagship Projects is part of the MRC's strategy to sustain vibrant medical research in South Africa.
With the expansion of HIV/TB treatment in South Africa and over 1.8 million patients on antiretrovirals (ARVs), drug resistance is fast becoming a growing concern. Despite significantly rolling out ARVs country-wide, attention to the management of individual patients with resistance strains has been neglected. Drug resistance testing is considered expensive, time consuming and dependent on high-level technology (such as genetics, biotechnology and bioinformatics). However, the focus is likely to change now.
This award will allow de Oliveira, a bioinformatician, and Tanser, an epidemiologist specializing in GIS, to work together to produce a unique framework to understand HIV-1 transmission and resistance. In addition, the award will allow them to collaborate closely with six other leading research groups based at UKZN (HEARD, K-RITH, HIV Pathogenesis Programme, Computer Science, Genetics and Infectious Diseases) to develop a framework to prevent HIV transmission and resistance.