"This effort, led by the indefatigable Harvard virologist Max Essex, has brought the impressive resources of frontline U.S. research right down to where the battle is being fought on the ground in southern Africa."
-Alexander McCall Smith
Established in 1996, the Botswana–Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) is a collaborative research and training initiative between the Government of Botswana and the Harvard AIDS Initiative.
From discussions in 1996 to the official opening of a state-of-the-art laboratory building on December 1, 2001, the BHP has grown into a fully-outfitted research laboratory and training center. The Botswana–Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory houses clinical, epidemiologic and laboratory research for such projects as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and the genomic analysis of HIV-1C, the viral sub-type predominant in southern Africa. Research is also conducted on resistance and adherence to anti-retroviral drugs, herpes and HIV, and HIV prevention. The Reference Laboratory serves as a training facility, building and expanding the professional infrastructure in Botswana through training the nation’s future researchers and laboratory technicians.
As well as conducting clinical, epidemiologic and laboratory-based research, the BHP is home to the KITSO AIDS Training Program which provides health care professionals in Botswana the opportunity to enrich their HIV and AIDS clinical knowledge and practice. The Partnership is also actively involved in collaborations toward the development of an HIV vaccine. Research programs underway include such topics as optimal treatments for AIDS, the identification and characterization of acute infection, how the human genetic background affects risk of infection and progression rate, how HIV is transmitted, how to overcome drug resistance, how to prevent transmission through breastfeeding, how to predict the future course of the epidemic, and how to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various interventions for prevention and treatment.
The research and training initiatives of the BHP focus on questions of epidemiology, virology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, clinical treatment, and social and behavioral medicine issues relevant to the epidemic in Botswana and southern Africa.
For more information, go to the BHP's website.