Nearly 37 million people are living with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region with more than 25 million people affected, and accounts for over 65 percent of the global total of new HIV infections. Tragically, HIV claims the lives of 1.1 million people each year globally.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells of the immune system, causing it to become weak and making it more susceptible to infections. HIV is generally spread through unprotected sexual intercourse or contaminated blood, but can also be spread from mother to child during pregnancy. There is no cure for HIV.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS but antiretroviral (ARV) drugs have made a huge difference in slowing or halting the progression to AIDS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 36 million people are living with the virus, with 2.1 million new infections (of which 20 percent are of adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24) and 1.1 million people dying from AIDS-related illnesses each year. It is estimated that currently only 51 percent of people with HIV know their status. The WHO reports that In 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, of which 10.3 million were in eastern and southern Africa.
World AIDS Day, held each year on 1 December, is an opportunity for people worldwide to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died.
Burnet’s Research and Public Health Focus
HIV is a major focus at Burnet, with more than half our work addressing laboratory-based research into finding a cure for the disease while our public health programs are focused on education and prevention both in Australia and overseas.
- Associate Professor David Anderson and Professor Suzanne Crowe AM developed a Point-of-Care test for CD4 T cells - an inexpensive test which aims to speed up the HIV diagnosis process and improve access to HIV treatment for millions around the world.
- Examines the side affects associated with HIV treatments and neuropathy (nerve damage in the feet) in HIV patients.
- Looks at the effects of HIV infection on the brain and the development of HIV associated dementia (Churchill Laboratory).
- Investigates how HIV replicates and destroys immune cells.
- Testing a gel that may be used to block HIV from infecting cells (Tachedjian Laboratory)
- Working towards an HIV vaccine using protein crystals from insect viruses in collaboration with Monash University (Ffrench Laboratory).
- Aims to reduce HIV transmission in Australia by managing and developing innovative systems for the Victorian Government.
- Conducts research involving groups most at risk and vulnerable to HIV
- Works with communities, civil society organisations, international non-government organisations and United Nations agencies with particular interest in Asia and the Pacific, focusing on HIV prevention and care.
- A novel biomarker for gut leakage as a diagnostic tool for HIV disease progression
Investigating a novel plasma biomarker's potential for identifying gut leakage.
- Accelerating ART initiation among Mothers and Infants (AAMI Study)
This project will trial the effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability of the novel POC VISITECT® CD4 test and POC LYNX HIV p24 early infant diagnostic (EID) test.
The Australian Collaboration for Coordinated Enhanced Sentinel Surveillance of STIs and BBVs (ACCESS) is a surveillance system that collates important and unique information on testing and positivity of a range of STIs and BBVs.
- Access Point Of Care
Increase access to lifesaving treatments for infectious diseases in hard-to-reach populations in resource-poor countries, by demonstrating the accuracy and feasibility of existing and novel point-of-care tests and enabling their implementation.
- Altered States: An evaluation of drug and alcohol therapeutic services at the Victorian AIDS Council
The Burnet Institute is the evaluator of the Victorian AIDS Council’s therapeutic program targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals (GLBT) experiencing substance use and mental health conditions.
- APPRISE - Centre for Research Excellence
The Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE) will address the need for a rapid and effective emergency response to infectious diseases.
- Assessment of risk practices and infectious disease among drug users in Temeke District, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
This consultancy for Médecins du Monde - France accessed the results of a rapid assessment and response (RAR) of people who use drugs in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
- Big Day Out studies: Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll
Since 2005, we have surveyed nearly 10,000 young people at the Big Day Out music festivals. We collect data on risk behaviours including sexual behaviour, drug use and alcohol.
- Broadly neutralising anti-HIV antibodies and Fc Receptor function
Defining the optimal properties of anti-HIV antibodies for the development of vaccines and for the engineering of antibodies for passive protection of pregnant women and infants, which has broad implications for other viral vaccines.
- Call Centre Impact Assessment for Marie Stopes International
The development and implementation of a call centre impact assessment framework and the testing of this framework at Marie Stopes International call centre in Mexico City.
- Characterisation of drug resistance mutations in the HIV reverse transcriptase
To understand the role of mutations selected during antiretroviral therapy on HIV drug resistance and viral fitness.
- Characterisation of Viral Tropism Alterations During Progressive Subtype C HIV-1 Infection
This project is aimed at determining how Subtype C HIV-1 (C-HIV) viruses target and infect cells of the human immune system during progressive C-HIV infection.
- COUNT: Community-based undiagnosed infection and HIV testing study
This study seeks to identify undiagnosed HIV infection among Australian gay men while delivering HIV testing through a national, community-based study.
- CREIDU - Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use
Improving the health of people who inject drugs through research that generates new evidence and informs public health policy and practice.
- DARE C: ATAHC II Substudy
DARE-C aims to evaluate individualisation of therapy duration using triple therapy (PEG-IFN/RBV/TPV) in a subgroup of ATAHC II subjects with genotype 1 infection and early chronic HCV infection.
- Developing new HIV disease progression tests: Identify immune cell metabolic markers associated with HIV disease progression in untreated persons, and immune recovery in treated individuals
This project will develop prognostic tools to identify HIV+ persons at risk of rapid disease progression or slow immune recovery, so they can be given priority access to life-saving HIV treatments.
- Development of a novel prophylactic vaccine candidate for HIV-1
A prophylactic vaccine represents the best strategy for blocking HIV-1 transmission, however, this goal is yet to be achieved.
- Development of a simple, paper-based method of plasma separation and collection for HIV viral load testing
Aimed at improving access to HIV viral load assays in resource-limited settings.
- Drugs and Harm Reduction Film Festival
Each year, the Burnet Institute manages the "Film Fest" as part of the International Harm Reduction Association’s annual conference.
- e-TEST: Enhancing STI/HIV testing in high-risk gay men
eTEST is an intervention and surveillance system that aims to increase STI/HIV testing among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
- Eliminating hepatitis C transmission by enhancing care and treatment among HIV co-infected individuals (The co-EC Study)
The co-EC study aims to eliminate Hepatitis C/HIV coinfection in the community through scale up treatment of Hepatitis C in primary care and hospital settings.
- Enhancing education and health services to reduce harms associated with drug use in Yangon, Myanmar
The project is supporting sustainable and comprehensive harm reduction and primary health care services from fixed sites and outreach programs for people who inject drugs and people who use drugs.
- Exploring risk and opportunities to improve the health of behaviourally bisexual men in Vientiane, Laos
This qualitative study demonstrated that men with bisexual behaviour in Laos engage in high-risk sexual behaviours but have low access to sexual healthcare and HIV prevention.
- Feasibility of antiretroviral treatment monitoring in the era of decentralized HIV care: A systematic review
A review to assess antiretroviral treatment monitoring in settings of decentralised HIV treatment and care in low and middle income countries.
- Friendly HIV services for young key populations in Bandung, Indonesia
The project brought together stakeholders to design and implement a pilot project to increase testing, treatment, adherence, and to decrease new HIV infections among Young Key Populations in Bandung.
- Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
A collaborative research program aimed at providing life-saving health care for women and children in Papua New Guinea.
- HIV Clinical Training for Doctors
Aimed at medical personnel with different levels of HIV experience in both urban and rural locations within resource constrained countries.
- HIV Cooperation Program for Indonesia (HCPI)
To work in collaboration with the Government of Indonesia to improve health by addressing HIV infection among marginalised populations.
- HIV mitigation for people who inject drugs in Myanmar
Aims to prevent the transmission of HIV among young people, students, migrant and transport workers. Priority areas include the prevention of the transmission of HIV through unsafe behaviour in sexual contacts and injecting drug use.
- HIV Prevention Initiatives Evaluation
An initiative to reduce HIV/STI risk behaviours as well as increasing health seeking behaviours among homosexually active gay men.
- HIV reverse transcriptase structure function and role in HIV replication
To study the role of reverse transcriptase dimerization in HIV replication.
- HIV services for young key populations in the Philippines
The Philippines is considering changing laws that require adolescents to seek parental consent for HIV testing. This project will explore options and contribute to better understanding of how new laws might result in improved practices.
- HIV-associated neuropathy (HIV-SN): epidemiology and genetics
HIV-associated neuropathy (HIV-SN) is a very common cause of pain in the lower limbs for people with HIV. Understanding which patients are at risk will assist preventing and treating this disabling condition.
- Intrinsic vaginal factors and their Impact on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections
This study seeks to determine the impact of vaginal microbiota metabolites on immune mediators and how they influence infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Laboratory Strengthening in Asia Pacific region
Laboratory tests are needed to guide the use of vital antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV infection, however laboratories in developing countries are not ready to perform the sophisticated tests to guide who needs treatment
- Mechanism of action of dendrimer microbicides against HIV
This study will lead to a greater understanding of how dendrimer nanoparticles can block HIV infection.
- MicroCube Technology Vaccine Platform – collaboration with Monash University
Burnet and Monash University are examining how the protein crystals excreted by insects after a virus could help create new vaccines to protect people against diseases like HIV.
- New drugs for HIV prevention: novel inhibitors against an essential HIV target
The research activity addresses the urgent need for new types of antiviral drugs for preventing HIV transmission.
- Nurses, Pharmacists and Laboratory Technician Training in HIV
HIV treatment, care, laboratory monitoring and basic universal precautions training aimed at nurses, pharmacists, Allied Health personnel, medical laboratory technicians and medical scientists in resource constrained countries.
- Optima decision science
Research and applications across a range of disease areas to improve allocative efficiency (the maximization of health outcomes using the most cost-effective mix of interventions and implementation methods).
- Papua New Guinea health system strengthening roles
Burnet is a partner in the Australian government-supported Health and HIV Implementation Services Provider (HHISP). HHISP is the main support to the large health development partnership of the Australian and PNG governments.
- PATH Cohort Study
A cohort study of the trajectories of prisoners with a history of injecting drug use after release from prison
- Performance of an innovative, instrument-free, low-cost, rapid point-of-care CD4 test for accelerating initiation of antiretroviral interventions for HIV 1-infected pregnant women in resource-constrained settings
In high-burden countries, HIV is a significant cause of maternal death. A simple and accurate instrument-free, low-cost POC CD4 test could reduce loss to follow-up associated with centralised laboratory-based testing.
- Physical activity and HIV
Non-drug treatments may have important health benefits for people living with chronic illnesses. This project aims to understand the role of physical activity for improving health for those with HIV.
- Preclinical Clinical Evaluation of Candidate Microbicides
We are evaluating dendrimer nanoparticles as microbicides to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
- PRONTO! Victoria's Community-based Rapid HIV Testing Service
PRONTO! is the first community-based rapid HIV testing service targeting gay men and men who have sex with men in Melbourne.
- Resources for improving national responses to HIV and STIs
These resources aim to build country leadership of more effective responses to the HIV and STI epidemics.
- Scaling Up of Most at Risk Populations Component II (SUM II)
Over five years, this project aims to improve the performance of Indonesian civil society organisations (CSOs) in servicing those in the population that are most at risk of HIV and AIDS
- The Victorian Primary Care Network for Sentinel Surveillance on BBVs and STIs
The Victorian Primary Care Network for Sentinel Surveillance of BBVs and STIs (VPCNSS) commenced operation in April 2006.
- Transmitted and acquired drug resistant HIV strains in Victoria, Australia
This project aims to document the rates and types of mutations associated with drug resistance being acquired by Victorian patients diagnosed with HIV and how this is changing over time.
- Victorian Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Demonstrations
This prevention strategy involves people who are HIV-negative taking HIV treatment medications to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.
- Virucidal activity of lactic acid and other carboxylic acids in the vagina against viral STIs
To understand how lactic acid inactivates HIV and other viral STIs.
- VISITECT® CD4
VISITECT® CD4 is an affordable HIV point-of-care test developed by Burnet but licensed to Omega Diagnostics.
- Working with men to address HIV in Myanmar
Ensuring high quality HIV prevention services for hard to reach men who have sex with men (MSM). The project aims to reduce HIV-related risk, vulnerability and impact among MSM and their sexual partners.
- 2011 Vanuatu Integrated Bio-Behavioural Survey and population size estimation
A unique study to estimate the number of men who have sex with men and female sex workers, and the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
- An evaluation of a community- and clinic-based intervention to improve and promote the health and rights of Myanmar men who have sex with men
This research evaluated the effectiveness of integrated HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) ‘Link Up’ services, in men who have sex with men (MSM).
- ANCP Project - Engaging men to improve health and prevent gender-based violence
The overall goal is to contribute to the improvement of the health of the men, their families and communities.
- China-Australia Health and HIV/AIDS Facility (CAHHF) - (2007-2012)
The China-Australia Health and HIV/AIDS Facility (CAHHF) was a partnership between the Australian Government and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.
- Evaluation of condom distribution trial in Victorian prisons
The evaluation of a pilot program introducing condoms and dental dams into Victorian Prisons.
- Evaluation of the Joint Initiative for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (JIMNCH) in Myanmar
Burnet led the evaluation of this United Nations program for maternal newborn and child health in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta of Myanmar.
- FaceSpace: Using social networking to promote safer sex to higher risk groups
This research project aims to use social networking sites to deliver health promotion messages about sexual health and safer sex to young people and men who have sex with men (MSM).
- HIV/AIDS Passive Surveillance
Carries out surveillance for HIV and AIDS in Victoria.
- Monitoring HIV, risk behaviour and health service utilisation among prisoners and ex-prisoners in Fiji
This research will provide the first ever estimate of HIV and syphilis prevalence among a representative sample of prisoners in Fiji and examine health risks, status and service utilisation post-release.
- Reducing Community Vulnerability to HIV/AIDS (RCVHA), 2004-2010
- Socioeconomic impact of HIV at household level in Myanmar
This study sought to gain a deeper understanding of the socioeconomic impact of HIV in Myanmar by looking at individual and community groups.
- Strengthening Sexual and Reproductive Health Capacity in Bali
This project is aimed at building capacity around Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and strengthening links between SRH and HIV prevention care and support
- Tibet Health Sector Support Program (THSSP)
Delivered in partnership with the Australian Red Cross, this AusAID funded program ran from 2004-2010 throughout the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
- USAID’s AKSI Stop AIDS Project
Implemented by Family Health International, Burnet was contracted to support activities in a number of harm reduction areas including situational assessment, training, program design and implementation and advocacy