WASHINGTONThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has awarded a 5-year, $14.8 million grant to bolster China’s HIV/AID research effort. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and Chinese Health Minister Zhang Wenkang signed a Memorandum of Understanding and announced the grant in a ceremony here.
The agreement was signed one day after the United Nations released a report in Beijing warning that China confronts an AIDS epidemic of "proportions beyond belief." The report by the UN’s Theme Group on HIV/AIDS cited a previously reported estimate that up to 1.5 million Chinese became infected with HIV in 2001. "In the near future, China might count more HIV infections than any other country in the world," the UN group declared. The report, "HIV/AIDS: China’s Titanic Peril," added that the world’s most populous nation is "on the verge of a catastrophe that could result in unimaginable human suffering, economic loss, and social devastation."
The NIAID awarded the new grant to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the first multiproject funding given under the Institute’s Comprehensive International Program for Research on AIDS (CIPRA), which awarded its first grants in 2001. The 5-year commitment is intended to increase China’s HIV/AIDS research capabilities and to increase its research into promising methods for HIV prevention and treatment.
The grant supports five inter-related projects led by principal investigator Yiming Shao, MD. They will focus on:
- Epidemiologic and transmission factors in HIV/AIDS
- Behavioral interventions to prevent HIV transmission
- Pathogenesis of the virus
- Safety and efficacy of anti-HIV drugs
- HIV/AIDS vaccine development
Researchers will carry out two of the projectsthe epidemiologic study and the behavioral interventions effortin Yunnan and Shanxi provinces. Several medical institutions will conduct clinical and laboratory studies, including the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Institute of Virology, both in Beijing, and Nankai University in Tianjin. Consultants from the United States will collaborate with Chinese scientists in designing and implementing the research projects.
The CIPRA program provides long-term support to HIV/AIDS research and training programs in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America, which today account for up to 90% of new HIV infections. Each long-term grant is specifically tailored to the needs of the country that receives it. Previous grants went to Peru, China, the Russian Federation, Trinidad, and Zambia.