Viral diversity testing for HIV to soon be a reality in India

HIV and viral hepatitis are among the biggest public health threats in India today, as they can produce many genotypes, which keep combining to form recombinant strains or mutations making detection trickier. Keping this in min, an AIDS research foundation is set to study the India’s viral diversity to improve accuracy of diagnostic tests

Viral diversity testing for HIV may soon be a reality in India

  • In India, according to the National Aids Control Organization in 2015, Andra Pradesh and Telangana have the highest estimated number of people living with HIV.
  • This is followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • These seven states together account for two thirds (64.4%) of total estimated people living with HIV.

Understanding this, Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRGCARE) has taken to study the country’s viral diversity to improve accuracy of diagnostic tests. This would be partnered with Abbott.

HIV and viral hepatitis are among the biggest public health threats in India today as they can produce many genotypes, which keep combining to form recombinant strains or mutations making detection trickier.

Therefore, understanding the distribution of genotypes and recombinants is critical to the development of diagnostic tests.

With more than 2.1 million people living with HIV, India has the third largest HIV incidence in the world with a large part co-infected with HCV. People who inject drugs (PWID) and sex workers are identified as key affected populations for which the epidemic is growing.

Dr Sunil Suhas Solomon, Chairman, YRGCARE said, “Drug using populations or PWIDs in India bear a disproportionate burden of HIV and HCV, and it’s critical to understand the transmissions in this group. Sequencing data in these affected populations will help us understand the evolutionary nature of the viruses enabling optimal treatment interventions to maximise impact.”

Speaking about the partnership Dr Sushil G Devare, Director of Diagnostics Research at Abbott said, “We are confident that our joint efforts will offer unique insights into the genetic diversity of HIV and HCV including those that are found in higher risk groups like PWID.”