Viral and Human Genetic Predictors of Response to HIV Therapies
Fiscal Year Project Launched
The HIV drug “cocktail” has transformed AIDS from a fatal disease to a manageable condition. Unfortunately, HIV can become resistant to these drugs, leading to the development of fullblown AIDS in the patient and increasing the chances of further transmission of the virus. Drs. Richard Harrigan and Julio Montaner’s research team will develop a test for drug resistance personalized to an individual’s DNA and the DNA of the virus. Lifetime drug costs for HIV are between $250,000 and $500,000 but there are numerous multipliers of the economic impact of an HIV infection. Nations with high HIVinfection rates see the significance of those impacts on GDP to a point of unsustainability. The project is also developing realtime surveillance systems for monitoring drug resistance to provide an early warning of geographic or population “hotspots” where resistance rates are highest and the risk of transmission greatest. Mathematical modeling suggests that implementing this pilot project in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and Prince George could avert as many as 173 HIV infections in the first five years, which represents approximately $65 million in avoided lifetime HIV treatment costs.