Leading the Way in HIV/AIDS Research

BRTI researchers and grantee institutions advance understanding of disease mechanisms and cooperate to move novel HIV prevention and treatment strategies from basic research into clinical practice. BRTI conducts and supports a comprehensive program of basic, behavioral, clinical, and translational research on HIV/AIDS and its associated coinfections, comorbidities, and other complications.

Current Projects

Bridging the Gap in HIV testing and care for children in Zimbabwe

The aim of this project is to investigate two interventions aimed at improving uptake of HIV testing and engagement with HIV care for children aged 2 – 18 years.  

Specific objectives:

  1. To investigate the effectiveness of targeted HIV testing and counselling offered to children living in households with HIV positive individuals in identifying undiagnosed HIV-


Lead Researchers: Rashida Ferrand (Zimbabwe), Celia Gregson (UK), Lisa Micklesfield (South Africa)

The MENOPAUSE study is about Understanding the effect of HIV disease and its treatment on the musculoskeletal soundness of African women as they change through menopause. The scale-up of antiretroviral therapy has drastically improved endurance, to such an extent that across Africa, expanding quantities of ladies with ongoing HIV are presently arriving at the menopause and past. The menopause is a time of metabolic change with impacts on the skeleton related with expanded crack danger. Exploration has only from time to time zeroed in on African women at this phase of life. This is a blended strategies study. We are exploring whether HIV contamination and its medicines demolish menopausal bone loss, and whether great viral suppression, accomplished through antiretroviral treatment (ART), weakens this HIV impact. 

Bronchopulmonary function in response to azithromycin treatment for chronic lung disease in HIV-infected children (BREATHE) study

BREATHE is a multi-site, individually randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The trial aims to assess whether adjuvant treatment with azithromycin results in improvement in lung function in HIV-positive children with chronic lung disease. The main study outcome is Forced Expiratory Volume in one second z- score (FEV1z) after 12 months of initiation of the trial drug. 

Feasibility and acceptability of HIV self-testing in adolescents and young people (FAST) study

Principal Investigator: Dr. Grace McHugh

Funder :European and Developing Countries Clinical Trial Partnership  

Youth have the highest incidence of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa but the lowest rates of testing. The feasibility and acceptability of HIV self-testing in adolescents and young people (FAST) study will investigate whether self-testing using oral mucosal transudate tests could be a solution. Participants will have the option of downloading a mobile app, ITHAKA, which gives step by step instructions on how to test. We will distribute 5000 self-testing kits to youth aged 16-24 at tertiary education institutions and community centres, over 12 months and measure the proportion of people who complete a test and, if necessary, are linked to care.

Past Projects

Child Aid

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rashida Ferrand

The objectives are:

1. To quantify HIV prevalence in primary schools with age-group trends

2. To develop a case-definition of an HIV suspect based on simple indicators (e.g. height, frequent absenteeism, orphanhood status, skin problems), with indications of sensitivity and specificity

3. To determine the number of HIV diagnoses made through the PSI CT service


Accessible HIV Diagnostic Services:

Development of a unique model of accessible HIV diagnostic services for children and teachers in a non-clinical setting. Strengthening HIV Prevention: HIV testing is an integral part of HIV prevention. CT will aid improve HIV knowledge among children, parents/guardians and school teachers and availability of HIV testing in schools may contribute to destigmatising HIV, which in turn consolidates prevention programs already operating outside schools.

Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA)


The Zimbabwe Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) began fieldwork in October 2015 and announced preliminary results in December 2016. In Zimbabwe— the first country to conduct a PHIA survey— survey teams visited over 11,000 households, interviewed participants, and provided HIV counseling and testing as well as syphilis testing.

Key ZIMPHIA preliminary findings among adults ages 15 to 64:

1. HIV incidence: 0.47%

2. HIV prevalence: 14.1%

3. Viral load suppression: 59.6%

4. 90-90-90: 742.9% of people living with HIV (ages 15 to 64) in Zimbabwe report knowing their status, 86.8% of those individuals self-report being on ART, and 86.5% of that group are virally suppressed.

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