Image: Burnet Institute Research Assistant and PhD candidate Brendan Harney
Burnet Institute Research Assistant and PhD candidate Brendan Harney has been acknowledged for excellence in research with an IAS/MSD Prize for Research in HIV Prevention at the 11th IAS Conference on HIV Science.
The US$10,000 IAS/MSD prize rewards outstanding researchers who demonstrate innovation, originality and quality in their research in the field of HIV Prevention.
Mr Harney won for his abstract to the conference focused on hepatitis C virus reinfection incidence among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men living with HIV.
“There’s been a lot of concern about hepatitis C reinfection among gay and bisexual men with HIV because of high reinfection rates before highly effective direct acting antiviral treatments became available in 2016,” Mr Harney said.
“Australia is one of the few countries in the world where primary care doctors can prescribe the treatments – you don’t need to consult a specialist – and what this work shows is that by having unrestricted access and offering treatment to everyone, the incidence of hepatitis C reinfection was lower from 2016 to 2019, compared to prior to 2016.
“This provides evidence essentially that there is a ‘treatment as prevention’ effect for reinfection, and it’s some of the first data globally to show that kind of concept.”
Burnet Deputy Director for Disease Elimination, Associate Professor Joe Doyle said the research demonstrates how scaling up treatment for hepatitis C can have a real-world impact.
“Treatment helps individuals, and broad treatment can help reduce the chance of others becoming infected,” Associate Professor Doyle said.
“A key lesson is that community engagement is critical to ensure everyone at risk is offered testing and treatment.”
Mr Harney said he was delighted and honoured to receive the award, which – pandemic pending – will go towards a trip to attend next year’s AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada.
“I think the award is also recognition for Burnet’s leadership in this field and the great work that’s being achieved in researching and advocating for broad access to hepatitis C treatments,” he said.
Find out more about Burnet’s hepatitis and HIV research and how you can support this important work.