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'Science' names HIV prevention trial as breakthrough of the year

FHI 360 celebrates two years on Science's breakthrough list, congratulates HPTN 052 collaborating partners

December 22, 2011

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — Today, Science named the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study "Breakthrough of the Year." FHI 360 congratulates our HPTN 052 collaborating partners on this important achievement. This is the second year in a row that Science selected a trial for which FHI 360 provided scientific leadership and operational support. Last year, the CAPRISA 004 study was recognized as one of Science's breakthroughs of 2010.

"To have our work, and that of our collaborators, included on this prestigious list two years running is incredibly exciting," said FHI 360's president of research, Dr. Ward Cates. "This achievement speaks to the dedication of our highly-skilled staff and partners and to FHI 360's continuing commitment to the highest-quality science and improving lives."

HPTN 052, funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was the first randomized clinical trial to show that providing early antiretroviral therapy to an HIV-infected person can dramatically lower the risk of sexual transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner — reducing the risk of infection by as much as 96 percent.

HPTN is a partnership between scientists and communities around the world to develop, evaluate and implement cutting-edge biomedical, behavioral and structural interventions to reduce the transmission of HIV. FHI 360 is the Network's core coordination and operations center, providing network governance, scientific leadership, operational support in research protocol development, clinical site oversight, community engagement, manuscript development and communications.

According to today's media release from Science, one of the premier scientific research journals, the study was selected for its "profound implications for the future response to the AIDS epidemic." Science will publish its selection of HPTN 052, along with the complete list of 2011 scientific breakthroughs, in the December 23 issue.

The CAPRISA 004 trial, which Science selected for its breakthroughs list in 2010, provided the first-ever proof-of-concept that a microbicide can effectively and safely reduce HIV transmission in women. Funded largely by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through FHI 360's Preventive Technologies Agreement, the trial was conducted by the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), in partnership with FHI 360, CONRAD and South Africa's Technology Innovation Agency and Department of Science and Technology. FHI 360 has decades of experience managing high-impact clinical trials. The CAPRISA 004 collaboration leveraged FHI 360's organizational strengths in science facilitation, clinical science and monitoring, behavioral science, ethical oversight, statistics and communications.