Friday, 13 September 2013

An institute for AIDS research

India is one of the countries world that is affected by HIV/AIDS. Though recent surveys have indicted that the number of HIV/AIDS cases have come down, the country is still home to millions of people suffering from this pandemic.
While there is enough literature on HIV/AIDS and also a variety of treatments available, a common man still harbours a great deal of misconceptions about it. Similarly, very few are also aware that there is a research institute that is exclusively devoted to research on HIV/AIDS and that it has been doing yeomen service since its inception.
This is the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), which was established in October 1992 in Bhosari, Pune on a seven acre plot.
An Institute devoted exclusively to HIV/ AIDS that could undertake research of such a diversity and magnitude was established to meet this requirement.
Over the years the institute has expanded its activities in various aspects of research on HIV and AIDS and also collaborated with other national and international agencies and organizations in the field.
The activities of NARI are supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research and other agencies. Its research activities are guided by a scientific advisory committee which comprises among others of eminent scientists from different disciplines.
Because of the sensitive nature of research and ethics, all research projects are reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee which ensures that any research is conducted with highest ethical standards.
The main objective of the institute is to control spread of  HIV and to provide care to HIV infected population. The care includes  treatment and vaccine. NARI itself runs seven clinics in different parts of  Pune city which provides varied services such as voluntary counseling, testing centers and care and support.
The institute has eight divisions, including Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Serology and Immunology, Clinical Sciences, Molecular Virology, Microbiology, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Library and Documentation and Administration.
Currently NARI has a permanent staff strength of 60 with additional personnel for specific projects.
It collaborates with Johns Hopkins University, USA, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease ,USA, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Family Health International. At the national level, the institute has a sound working collaboration with National AIDS Control Organization, New Delhi and Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi.
NARI has set up a cohort of HIV seronegative persons so that it can collect information on the spread of HIV, the rate of infection and role of other diseases such as herpes simplex, virus 2 and syphilis. 
NARI also has the distinction of  having conducted India's first HIV vaccine trial. It also carried out clinical trials for anti-HIV drugs under international regulatory requirements. The institute has a separate center for carrying this trial which  provides treatment to HIV infected through National ARV roll out programme.
The institute has also taken up studies on what it calls women controlled methods for prevention of HIV.
Apart from NARI, there are several other institutes that are currently engaged in research on HIV/AIDs and its prevention and cure.

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