Abbott and YRGCARE Announce Unique Collaboration to Study HIV and Viral Hepatitis Patterns

MUMBAI, 10 January 2018 – Strengthening India’s efforts in combating HIV and hepatitis viruses, Abbott has announced its partnership with Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRGCARE) to study the country’s viral diversity to improve accuracy of diagnostic tests. Abbott will provide study protocol and diagnostic equipment and YRGCARE will help in screening and sequencing rich patient data from infected populations in India.

HIV and viral hepatitis are among the biggest publichealth threats in India today as they can produce many genotypes*, which keepcombining to form recombinant strains or mutations making detection trickier.Therefore, understanding the distribution of genotypes and recombinants iscritical 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 partco-infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). People who inject drugs (PWID) andsex workers are identified as key affected populations for which the epidemicis growing.  

Speaking about the partnership Dr Sushil GDevare, Director of Diagnostics Research at Abbott said, “Inthe fight against HIV and viral hepatitis, we are pleased to collaborate withYRGCARE as they are pioneers of AIDS research and have extensive experience inunderstanding the HIV patient communities across the country. With sequencedata generated under this partnership, Abbott endeavours to understand newviral mutations and variations of HIV and HCV leading to the development ofnewer tests and diagnostic kits to improve detection. We are confident that ourjoint efforts will offer unique insights into the genetic diversity of HIV andHCV including those that are found in higher risk groups like PWID.” 

Dr Sunil Suhas Solomon, Chairman, YRGCARE said,“We are excited to partner with Abbott to study emerging patterns of HIV andviral hepatitis in India. Drug using populations or PWIDs in India bear adisproportionate burden of HIV and HCV, and it’s critical to understandthe transmissions in this group. Sequencing data in these affected populationswill help us understand the evolutionary nature of the viruses enabling optimaltreatment interventions to maximize impact.” 

Established more than twenty years ago, Abbott’s GlobalSurveillance Programme spans 40 countries across six continents,identifying and characterizing more than 5,000 virus strains, ensuring thatcurrent diagnostic tests to detect a wide range of HIV and hepatitis virusesand determine the need for newer tests to stay ahead of evolving viruses. 

India is the latest addition to Abbott’s recentsurveillance efforts in Asia-Pacific to provide new insights on the strains andtransmission of these viruses specific to India.Abbott is the only diagnostic test manufacturer withsuch a unique, longstanding and large-scale virus Surveillance Programme. BesidesIndia, Abbott has collaborated with partners in China, Australia, Vietnam, Laosand Pakistan to ensure its Surveillance Programme covers key regions. Inaddition, Abbott works with commercial partners in Nepal the Philippines aswell as the Red Cross in Thailand to gain access to circulating strains of HIVand hepatitis viruses, thus ensuring a real representation of the prevalentinfections.

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