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Insight blog: Posts tagged with HIV

Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.

To stop AIDS we must reach the ‘mobile population’

23 Aug 2018

Janet Seeley

For the past three decades, Janet Seeley, Professor of Anthropology and Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has been engaged in HIV research across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. For the last 10 years, she has led the Social Aspects of Health Across the Lifecourse programme in the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit. Here she tells us about some of the challenges in getting HIV testing and treatment to everyone in need.

 If everyone living with HIV takes an HIV test and knows their status, and if everyone with an HIV-positive test begins antiretroviral therapy (ART) HIV treatment rapidly, this enhances their chance of living a healthy life into old age. That treatment can also reduce the amount of virus in a person’s body to such a low level that they will not pass the virus on to others.

This is universal test and treat, a strategy aimed at getting everyone who is living with HIV on to treatment and thus significantly increasing the proportion of people who are aware of their HIV status and receiving that treatment. [...]

Continue reading: To stop AIDS we must reach the ‘mobile population’

Working life: Professor Janet Darbyshire

8 Feb 2018

Professor Janet Darbyshire worked in medicine and then clinical trial based research from the early 1970s. Playing an instrumental role in the development of HIV treatment, she’s worked on and coordinated many clinical trial programmes in the UK and Africa. Last month we celebrated her achievements at a ceremony held within the Houses of Parliament, awarding Janet our most prestigious award, the MRC Millennium Medal. Here Janet tells us about her early memories of medicine, giraffes in Africa and the changes she’s seen her research make to people’s lives.

Career in brief [...]

  • Qualified in medicine at The University of Manchester in 1970
  • MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 1990
  • Became head of the MRC HIV Clinical Trials Centre in London in 1989
  • In 1998 established, and became director of, the MRC Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)
  • Awarded an OBE in 1996 and a CBE in 2010 for services to clinical sciences

Continue reading: Working life: Professor Janet Darbyshire

Supporting mothers with HIV and depression to help children thrive

4 Aug 2017

Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Alan Stein is helping HIV-positive women with depression during pregnancy and the postnatal period. By improving their wellbeing he wants to help their children get the best start in life. He explains what his team has achieved so far in South Africa and the global implications of this work.

Professor Alan Stein

Imagine receiving an HIV diagnosis when you’re pregnant. You’re bringing a new life into the world. Then you receive news that you have an infection which requires lifelong treatment. You’re unsure if you will pass it onto your child and you may feel stigmatised. Disclosing your HIV status to your partner, or family, may also be a major worry. [...]

Continue reading: Supporting mothers with HIV and depression to help children thrive

How 100-year-old research could help patients with HIV

1 Oct 2014

Christoffer van Tulleken

Christoffer van Tulleken

In his winning article for the Max Perutz Science Writing Award 2014, Dr Christoffer van Tulleken tells us what a chicken has got to do with HIV, and how his research studying how the virus interacts with machinery inside our cells may, or may not, lead to new drugs.

The most important chicken in medical history was a Plymouth Barred Rock Hen from New York. The chicken’s name is not recorded but in 1911 she was brought by her owner to a young pathologist called Peyton Rous because of a large tumour growing out of her neck.

Rous subsequently performed a series of experiments so elegant it is hard to believe he didn’t know what he was looking for. He showed that the filtered extract from the tumour, containing no actual tumour cells, could cause more tumours in another chicken. Rous had discovered a type of virus that can cause cancer called a retrovirus. [...]

Continue reading: How 100-year-old research could help patients with HIV

Llamas, jungle fowl … and HIV

13 Feb 2013

Robin Weiss in the lab he's soon to close

Robin Weiss in the lab he’s soon to close

University College London virology professor Robin Weiss retires from research at the end of March after 30 years of continuous MRC funding. He tells Sarah Harrop about his eventful career, which has involved critical discoveries about HIV’s modus operandi, catching jungle fowl in Malaysia and developing microbicides based on llama antibodies.

The MRC runs through Robin’s career like the letters in a stick of rock, right back to his first ever job as a graduate research assistant in India with the now defunct MRC Experimental Genetics Unit in 1963.

During his PhD in cancer research, also funded by the MRC, he switched tracks to cancer-causing viruses, and the next two decades saw Robin carrying out virology research in other far flung corners of the globe. He did a postdoc in Prague “in the dark days after the Soviet tanks rolled in” and went on a field trip to Malaysia during which he lived with aboriginal people and caught wild jungle fowl to study the virus strains they were carrying in their DNA. [...]

Continue reading: Llamas, jungle fowl … and HIV