Strengthening India’s efforts in combating HIV and hepatitis viruses, Abbott has announced its partnership with Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRGCARE) to study the country’s viral diversity to improve accuracy of diagnostic tests. Abbott will provide study protocol and diagnostic equipment and YRGCARE will help in screening and sequencing rich patient data from infected populations in India.
HIV and viral hepatitis are among the biggest public health threats in India today as they can produce many genotypes*, which keep combining to form recombinant strains or mutations making detection trickier. Therefore, understanding the distribution of genotypes and recombinants is critical to the development of diagnostic tests.
With more than 2.1 million people living with HIV, India has the third largest HIV incidence in the world with a large part co-infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). People who inject drugs (PWID) and sex workers are identified as key affected populations for which the epidemic is growing.
Speaking about the partnership Dr Sushil G Devare, Director of Diagnostics Research at Abbott said, “In the fight against HIV and viral hepatitis, we are pleased to collaborate with YRGCARE as they are pioneers of AIDS research and have extensive experience in understanding the HIV patient communities across the country. With sequence data generated under this partnership, Abbott endeavours to understand new viral mutations and variations of HIV and HCV leading to the development of newer tests and diagnostic kits to improve detection. We are confident that our joint efforts will offer unique insights into the genetic diversity of HIV and HCV including those that are found in higher risk groups like PWID.”
Dr Sunil Suhas Solomon, Chairman, YRGCARE said, “We are excited to partner with Abbott to study emerging patterns of HIV and viral hepatitis in India. Drug using populations or PWIDs in India bear a disproportionate burden of HIV and HCV, and it’s critical to understand the transmissions in this group. Sequencing data in these affected populations will help us understand the evolutionary nature of the viruses enabling optimal treatment interventions to maximize impact.”
Established more than twenty years ago, Abbott’s Global Surveillance Programme spans 40 countries across six continents, identifying and characterizing more than 5,000 virus strains, ensuring that current diagnostic tests to detect a wide range of HIV and hepatitis viruses and determine the need for newer tests to stay ahead of evolving viruses.
India is the latest addition to Abbott’s recent surveillance efforts in Asia-Pacific to provide new insights on the strains and transmission of these viruses specific to India. Abbott is the only diagnostic test manufacturer with such a unique, longstanding and large-scale virus Surveillance Programme. Besides India, Abbott has collaborated with partners in China, Australia, Vietnam, Laos and Pakistan to ensure its Surveillance Programme covers key regions. In addition, Abbott works with commercial partners in Nepal the Philippines as well as the Red Cross in Thailand to gain access to circulating strains of HIV and hepatitis viruses, thus ensuring a real representation of the prevalent infections.
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About Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education:
YRGCARE was established in 1993 by the late Dr Suniti Solomon and since inception has provided HIV prevention and treatment services to over 21,000 HIV infected persons in India. YRGCARE is amongst the largest HIV care providers in the private sector and has an extensive research portfolio of clinical, laboratory and behavioural research across the country.