New Allies in the HIV Fight

New Allies in the HIV Fight

Dec 01

This month, the MGH magazine Proto features the work of Dr. Krista Dong and the innovative FRESH Program in South Africa which partners with young women to research the earliest phase of HIV infection.


From the Proto Magazine article:


Nomcebo Msomi is a 22-year-old South African woman with a shy smile. She lives in Umlazi, a township in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Twice a week, she visits a storefront clinic in a local shopping mall to get tested for HIV.


fresh_quoteThe KwaZulu-Natal province has the heaviest burden of HIV in the world. Roughly one-third of young pregnant women test positive for the virus. This grim epicenter of infection has recently given rise to a fascinating new project —Females Rising through Education, Support and Health (FRESH). The program is both a research study and community outreach program, an attempt to synthesize science and social good.


It began with a knotty research problem. The events that occur at the earliest stages of HIV infection — and how the immune system reacts to them — have often proven challenging to study. There is a very small window of opportunity to study the body’s immune responses, and the virus itself, during the earliest stages of infection before antibodies develop. That window is known as the acute infection phase. Because of its brevity, researchers worldwide have found it difficult to recruit individuals who can provide samples during this acute phase.”



And learn more about the FRESH program here.