HIV/AIDS research insights: Impacts, trends, opportunities

hiv/aids research insights coverAn estimated 38 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, and while a decline in research output reflects success in tackling the disease, research into new drug targets continues.

Research output has tracked the incidence rates, with the greatest output seen between 1995 and 2000, which coincides with the height of the pandemic, when there were 52 new cases per 100,000 people — or about double the current rate.

As the research output has steadily declined, so too has its focus. HIV protein targets have been a major source of focus in the published scientific literature over the past 20 years. In that time, an increasing body of published data has also begun to look at the potential of a patient’s own intrinsic immune defense system to reduce viral replication. The last 10 years have seen research into novel host targets, with emerging targets including SAMHDI.

The United States is the top producer of HIV/AIDS related research, followed by the UK, South Africa and China. In terms of the relative activity in HIV/AIDS research, output is highest in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, reflecting the high priority of this research in countries where the disability-adjusted life years lost due to HIV/AIDS per 100,000 individuals is high, along with the strong research culture in these countries.

International collaboration is a key feature: of the top 10 institutions that produce the most research on HIV/AIDS, more than half of the output involves international collaboration. This is particularly the case for South African institutions: research from the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand involves 73.9% and 74.1% international collaboration respectively.

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