TREAT Asia Reports Progress, Looks to Future
Network Meeting Moved to Bangkok Following Bali Bombings
February 2006—The robust growth of the TREAT Asia network since its establishment in 2001 was demonstrated at the 5th Annual Network Meeting in Bangkok, 14-15 October 2005. About 100 participants from 19 countries attended, representing TREAT Asia sites and international organizations such as Family Health International, GlaxoSmithKline, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNAIDS, USAID, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and WHO.
Originally scheduled to take place in Bali, the meeting was hastily moved to Bangkok in the wake of the October 1 terrorist bombings.
Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, newly elected chair of the TREAT Asia steering committee, with Dr. Patrick Li of Hong Kong, co-chair.
Chief among new developments reported at the meeting, TREAT Asia Director Kevin Frost announced a grant of approximately €4.56 million from the Dutch government to support a five-year HIV drug resistance surveillance and monitoring program.
Other highlights of the Bangkok meeting included:
New TREAT Asia sites— Presentations were made by representatives of two new participating sites. Dr. Goa Tau discussed HIV epidemiology and treatment in Papua New Guinea, where he is chief physician at Port Moresby General Hospital. And Dr. Jun Yong Choi of Severance Hospital and Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, reported on HIV/AIDS in his country and the progress being made on treatment and prevention.
Pediatric Network—Among a range of TREAT Asia activities and accomplishments in 2005, Frost reported on the network’s first meeting on pediatric HIV/AIDS in Southeast Asia, convened in September 2005. That meeting generated keen interest in developing a TREAT Asia sister network and database on pediatric AIDS in the region, and participants from each country are currently assessing possible objectives for such a network. Internal preparations for the database have already begun with the hope of a launch in spring or summer 2006.
TREAT Asia HIV Observational Database (TAHOD)—Fifteen TREAT Asia sites are now participating in the database, reported Dr. Rossana Ditangco of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila, Philippines. The sites are contributing valuable information on treatment patterns among 3,000 HIV/AIDS patients across the region. As the new resistance surveillance and monitoring network takes shape, the TAHOD will provide an indispensable platform for data gathering and analysis.
Quality Assurance Program—In order to standardize lab procedures for HIV genotypic drug resistance testing at TREAT Asia sites, Dr. Philip Cunningham of St. Vincent’s Hospital at the University of New South Wales, Australia, has developed a quality assurance program that will be adopted by the network. The program, which will include an annual workshop for collaborating laboratories, will help ensure consistency and accuracy of testing procedures and reporting of HIV resistance profiles.
Steering Committee—Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman of the University of Malaya Medical Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was elected chair of the TREAT Asia steering committee. Dr. Patrick Lee of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong was elected co-chair.
HIVeDucation—Dr. Sanjay Pujari of the Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune, India, reported on the progress of the online HIV/AIDS training program being piloted from Ruby Hall.
Additional presentations at the meeting were made by Dr. Judith Auerbach, vice president of public policy and program development at amfAR, who spoke about current and future directions in HIV prevention; Dr. Julian Elliott, who reported on the Cambodian National HIV Training Program; Dr. Michael O’Reilly of the U.S. CDC in Thailand, who spoke about public health infrastructure to support ARV drug resistance prevention in national programs; and Dr. Jean-Marc Steens, medical director of HIV/neurology at GlaxoSmithKline International, who discussed HIV research in the international arena.