The EPIC4 research team is recruiting a cohort of children and adults who were infected with HIV-1 following vertical transmission. Some participants will have started combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) very early after birth, while others will have started later in life. Some participants will have been able to control HIV replication and will have attained sustained viral suppression, while other will not. Children who were on treatment but could not attain viral suppression and children who were never on cART will serve as control groups.
The EPIC4 study includes 2 sets of tests. First, size of viral reservoir will be measured in participants at different time points and in different cell subsets. Second, the presence and level of markers of immune activation, tissue inflammation, microbial translocation and endothelial dysfunction will be evaluated. Results of these analyses will be compared between children who initiated cART early after birth or later in life, and those who have or have not demonstrated long-term control of viral replication.
Given that the case of the Mississippi Baby had generated a lot of public interest, the EPIC4 research team will design a Knowledge Translation and Exchange (KTE) Plan so that research results can be disseminated in a rapid and appropriate manner. A KTE committee will be struck, comprised of members of the EPIC4 research group, AIDS Service Organization staff and community members living with or affected by HIV. Their role will be to make sure research results are effectively translated to the scientific and lay communities. The KTE plan will be designed to translate the rationale, objectives and results of our research, but also to identify community priorities for future research and knowledge translation.