The news comes as campaigns are underway to commemorate World Aids Day on 1st December
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are co-launching a new global health research group on HIV-associated fungal infections.
Serious fungal infections are a major threat to global public health, with individuals living with HIV disproportionately affected by these severe infections. Historically, this field of research has been neglected, receiving less than 1.5% of international funds afforded to infectious disease research.
With support from a £3 million grant from the National Institute for Health and Care Research, IMPRINT will aim to improve the diagnosis and treatment of four major HIV-associated fungal infections; Cryptococcus, Histoplasma, Pneumocystis and Talaromyces. These infections are responsible for over 20% of AIDS-related deaths worldwide and have been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as priority diseases in 2022.
IMPRINT (which stands for International Mycoses Prevention, Research, Implementation, Networks and Training) is a collaboration of academics, clinical and public health leaders, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Médecins Sans Frontières and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.
The group will focus on six key objectives regarding treatment, prevention, health economics, diagnostics, training and community engagement between 2022 and 2026. Efforts will be targeted towards populations that are most frequently affected by HIV-associated fungal infections in Africa (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Guinea) and in South East Asia (Vietnam).
IMPRINT will gather insights from qualitative research, with guidance from a steering committee and a community advisory board. The group also plan to maximise the impact of their results through consultations with national, regional, and international bodies (for example, ministries of health, major NGOs, Unitaid, WHO and Africa CDC).
Dr David Lawrence, a group collaborator and clinical research physician at LSHTM commented: “Fungal infections can be devastating, particularly for people living with advanced HIV disease. To date, research into these infections has not always been prioritised and so we are thrilled that the NIHR are supporting our consortium within this Global Health Research Group. We look forward to bringing together leading experts from a wide range of research disciplines and working alongside communities of people living with HIV to answer the urgent questions in this field. The broad scope of IMPRINT and our ambitious programme of work provide us with a real opportunity to generate the findings needed to reduce mortality from these deadly infections.”