Research updates
HIV - a global challenge   page 1
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1. Introduction Link to the Medical Research Council web site
The prevention and treatment of HIV infection and AIDS are the focus of a wide-ranging research programme currently being undertaken by MRC scientists. Although as yet there is neither a cure nor a vaccine for AIDS, the use of newly-developed drugs is proving effective in prolonging life and delaying the onset of AIDS. The development of a vaginal virucide may help limit sexual transmission of HIV.



The acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by infection with the human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV). Although AIDS was recognised in 1981, the global epidemic was well established by this time. HIV had spread silently and undetected, probably since the mid 1970s.

Such was the rapidity of spread that AIDS is now the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. The results of this have been devastating. The high mortality amongst young working adults could cripple national economies and has left over a million children orphaned. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS is the fourth biggest killer. The sobering statistic from the World Health Organisation is that, at the end of 2001, an estimated 40 million people globally were living with AIDS (by comparison, the whole population of the UK was just under 60 million).

Photo of Sarah Walker Figure 1. Sarah Walker took a degree in Maths at the University of Cambridge followed by an MSc (Master of Science) in Medical Statistics at the University of Southampton.

She was funded by the MRC and completed a PhD. degree at the MRC HIV Clinical Trials Unit at University College London Medical School. She now works as a post-doctoral research scientist on the design of HIV clinical trials alongside statisticians, computer staff and medical doctors.

You can download a pdf file of the teachers' notes.

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