HIV/AIDS: NICHD Research Goals

The NICHD supports and conducts research on a wide range of topics within HIV/AIDS, including the pathogenesis, epidemiology and demographics, prevention, and treatment of HIV and co-occurring infections. These topics include:

  • Understanding the contexts (including social, institutional, economic, cultural, and geographic), patterns, and impact of sexual behavior and HIV transmission, testing, and treatment in populations.
  • Uncovering factors that influence decisions and behaviors that affect HIV risk. Information about the sources of vulnerability to infection is important to inform interventions in diverse populations.
  • Conducting basic research to elucidate the biological and molecular mechanisms of HIV transmission, replication, and reservoirs, particularly those unique to pregnant women, fetuses, infants, children, and adolescents. Knowledge of cell- and molecule-level pathways that are involved in HIV disease may lead to new preventative or therapeutic interventions for the infection.
  • Developing and evaluating prevention and therapeutic strategies specifically for pregnant women, infants, children, and adolescents, including a special focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission. These strategies may be nutritional, social, behavioral, pharmacological, immunological, or others. Interventions for HIV infection, adherence to anti-HIV medications, co-infections, side effects of treatment, or other complications or consequences of HIV infection (such as social consequences) are all needed.
  • Evaluating diagnosis, prevention, and therapeutic strategies for co-infections, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria, that are common in HIV-infected women, infants, children, and adolescents, particularly in resource-limited countries.
  • Understanding the impact of HIV infection and its treatment on women and children globally. These include the effects on pregnancy, fetal development, child development (including growth, sexual maturation, metabolism, socialization, and neurology), and gender-specific aspects of HIV (such as interaction between HIV and female hormones through the life span, effects on bone, and cervical or breast disease or cancer).
  • Characterizing the impacts of pregnancy and childhood development on HIV therapies, including determination of appropriate drug formulations and dosing regimens for these populations.
  • Understanding anti-HIV drug toxicity in pregnancy, in utero, and in infancy and the long-term effects of early antiretroviral exposure on all aspects of child development, including effects of in utero anti-HIV drug exposure on HIV-exposed but uninfected children.
  • Determining the safety and efficacy of contraceptives and infertility treatments in HIV-positive women.
  • Developing and improving methods for studying sexual behavior, including reliable and unbiased measures, data collection methods that improve validity of self-reports, and methods for validation of self-report data.
  • Developing capacity for HIV/AIDS research in resource-limited nations through training and improved infrastructure.
  • Improving diagnosis and monitoring of perinatal and pediatric HIV infection and co-infections, especially through assays and strategies that are appropriate for use in developing nations.
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