The Hutchinson Center's Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research & Prevention (SCHARP) played a key role in the HIV prevention study that Science magazine recently chose as its scientific breakthrough of the year for 2011.
The HIV Prevention Trials Network study, known as HPTN 052, showed that the early use of antiretroviral drugs reduced heterosexual HIV transmission to uninfected sexual partners by 96 percent. More than 1,700 sero-discordant couples (one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative) from nine countries on four continents participated in the study.
SCHARP's Dr. Ying Chen of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division was the lead statistician for the study and the second author of the paper, both led by Dr. Myron Cohen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Drs. Thomas Fleming and Lei Wang of VIDD also contributed.
SCHARP's HPTN 052 team, which is part of VIDD's Population Sciences program, helped design the study and develop the protocol with the principal investigators. They worked with an independent data and safety monitoring board as it reviewed the study's safety and efficacy data twice annually. Since the study began participant enrollment in 2005, SCHARP's HPTN 052 team processed almost 518,000 forms containing the study volunteers' medical data, conducted the interim analysis and provided all of the statistical support for the paper. Many SCHARP staff, including Leslie Cottle, San-San Ou, Xin Li, Jami Moksness, Maija Anderson, Jenny Tseng, Sue Tracy-Waisanen, Debbie Lands, Della Wilson, Stacie Kentop and Shane Coultas, contributed significantly to the paper’s publication.
"In combination with other promising clinical trials, the results have galvanized efforts to end the world’s AIDS epidemic in a way that would have been inconceivable even a year ago," wrote Dr. Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief of Science, in his Dec. 23 editorial about the breakthrough. "This is not to say that we can abandon the search for an AIDS vaccine. Nor will profound change come overnight from the promise of using treatment as prevention. But for its role in making success conceivable, we have chosen the results of this trial as our breakthrough of the year."