Despite a considerable body of knowledge that has been accumulated over the past decades and major successes in the treatment of HIV infection, neither an effective vaccine nor an eradication of HIV by drug intervention are within reach. Current antiretroviral treatment (ART) has dramatically reduced morbidity and development of AIDS in industrialized countries. To date however success of ART necessitates a life-long, continuous therapy as drug control the virus but cannot eliminate it form the latent reservoir. With worldwide numbers of people living with HIV constantly increasing, associated costs of therapies put a tremendous pressure on health care systems. Additionally, side effects of long term therapy only solely become understood and more and more co-morbidities need to be considered as we go along. In order to control HIV-1 infection in the future, three main pillars are necessary: i) Optimal treatment of patients to control disease and limit transmission, ii) Resolving the underlying biology that leads to HIV latency to allow development of novel therapies leading to eradication of HIV from the infected individual (cure). iii) Defining protective immune responses against HIV to allow the development of effective vaccines. A key focus of research to reach these goals is the acute HIV infection as during this stage the latent reservoir is formed and the immune system is primed. This is the main focus of the Zurich Primary HIV Study (ZPHI), which is imbedded in the KFSP Viral Infectious Diseases. The research platform of the KFSP-ZPHI-study includes internationally renowned research groups within the areas of clinical infectious diseases, basic virology, immunology, genetics, evolution and bioinformatics research. Through this platform we have the possibility to perform innovative, pathogenesis-oriented clinical trials and basic research centering around HIV transmission, formation of the viral reservoir and its eradication. The platform further provides interesting training opportunities for master students (Medicine and Faculty of Science), PhD, MD-PhD students, postdocs and clinical researchers in different disciplines (microbiology, immunology, epidemiology / Biostatistics, Bioinformatics / Biomathematics, infectious diseases).
KFSP Zurich Primary HIV Infection Study