Rapid diagnosis improves prevention and control of STDs

Identification of sexually transmitted viral infections such as those caused by HIV should be prioritized according to the difficulty of their treatment and the burden on health, says Keio University researcher

By Fernando Cunha, in Tokyo

Agência FAPESP– A method developed for the rapid diagnosis of viral infections to monitor genotypes of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) by using a new generation gene sequencer was presented by Professor Shigeo Koyasu from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine at Keio University, during a lecture at the Japan-Brazil Symposium on Research Collaboration. The event was organized by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and FAPESP March 15-16 in Tokyo.

“In HIV infections, the diagnostic method strategy is to monitor the drug resistant genotypes of the virus in patients and identify those that are drug resistant in order to achieve maximum effect in treating the infection,” said Koyasu.

“Mortality from the disease has decreased significantly since the antiretroviral treatment and the rapid detection of the virus is important for prediction of the therapy.” According to the researcher, some mutations of HIV that are resistant to the treatment are already known, and this has been useful for identifying the most effective drugs in each case.

The World Health Organization estimates that 38.6 million people in the world are infected with HIV, including two million children and adolescents under the age of 15 infected with HIV-1.

According to Koyasu, the majority of the infected children live in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 10,000 among the estimated 730,000 patients infected by HIV-1 in Brazil are probably children.

Although the survival of patients infected by HIV has improved considerably since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), recent studies have revealed that it is crucial to reduce the viral load through chemotherapy as soon as the HIV infection has been confirmed.