Background:Despite the burden of HIV being highest in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), research expertise and capacity to address scientific questions regarding complications of HIV and ART, especially chronic non-communicable conditions, is limited in the region. The comorbidities prevalent in persons with HIV are mediated through diverse mechanisms, many of which can be context or region-specific and are yet to be elucidated. The phenotype, risk factors, and effective interventions for these conditions may differ between populations and settings, and therefore there is an urgent need for research to help understand these processes and how to best address them in SSA. Here, we report the research capacity building activities in SSA conducted by the University of Zambia (UNZA)-Vanderbilt Training Partnership for HIV-Nutrition-Metabolic Research (UVP), drawing lessons and challenges for a wide global health audience.Methods:We reviewed program data and conducted interviews with program leaders and participants to understand and document the progress and outcomes of the partnership. We report the program’s early achievements, highlighting drivers and challenges.Results:Between 2015 and 2019, UVP made substantial progress on its goals of training new UNZA PhD scientists to investigate complex nutritional and metabolic factors related to long-term HIV complications and comorbidities. The program has supported 11 UNZA PhD students with dual UNZA-Vanderbilt mentorship; three have graduated, and other candidates are progressing in their PhD studies. The project also supported institutional capacity through UNZA faculty participation in Vanderbilt grant writing workshops, with strong success in obtaining grants among those who participated. UVP also supported development of greater structure to UNZA’s PhD program and a mentorship curriculum, both now adopted by UNZA. The major drivers for success included UVP’s alignment of goals between UNZA and Vanderbilt, and local institutional ownership. The longstanding history of collaborations between the two institutions contributed substantially to alignment and mutual support of UVP’s goals. Several challenges were noted, including limits on direct research funding for students and a relatively small pool of funded investigators at UNZA.Conclusions:Despite some challenges, UVP has achieved positive outcomes over its first four years. Longstanding partnerships and local institutional ownership were the main drivers. We expect the challenges to mitigated as the project continues and produces more UNZA researchers and teams and more funded projects, collectively building the local research community. With continued resources and clear focus, we expect that UNZA’s investigators and partners will attract research funding and generate high-impact research outputs across a broad range of studies in HIV as well as newer threats from non-communicable conditions experienced by long-term survivors of HIV and by the general population.
Persons living with HIV (PLWH) receiving tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) risk suffering TDF-associated nephrotoxicity (TDFAN). TDFAN can result in short- and long-term morbidity, including permanent loss of kidney function, chronic kidney disease (CKD), and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) requiring dialysis. Currently, there is no model to predict this risk or discern which patients to initiate TDF-based therapy. Consequently, some patients suffer TDFAN within the first few months of initiating therapy before switching to another suitable antiretroviral or a lower dose of TDF. In a prospective observational cohort study of adult Zambian PLWH, we modelled the risk for TDFAN before initiating therapy to identify individuals at high risk for experiencing AKI after initiating TDF-based therapy. We enrolled 205 HIV-positive, ART-naïve adults initiating TDF-based therapy followed for a median of 3.4 months for TDFAN at the Adult Infectious Disease Research Centre (AIDC) in Lusaka, Zambia. We defined TDFAN as meeting any of these acute kidney disease (AKD) criteria: 1) An episode of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR)< 60ml/ min/1.73m2 within 3 months, 2) reduced eGFR by> 35% within 3 months or 3) increased serum creatinine by> 50% within 3 months. A total of 45 participants (22%) developed acute kidney disease (AKD) after TDF-based therapy. The development of AKD within the first 3 months of commencing TDF-based therapy was associated with an increase in baseline serum creatinine, age, baseline eGFR and female sex. We concluded that baseline characteristics and baseline renal function biomarkers predicted the risk for AKD within the first 3-months of TDF-based therapy.
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