VIGH researchers receive grant to study family-focused approach to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission

Researchers at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) recently received a two-year, $895,072 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study whether an integrated, family-focused approach can prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV—the AIDS virus—in Nigeria. The West African nation has one of the world’s highest burdens of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, 360,000 Nigerian children under age 15 are living with HIV. Most were infected by their mothers during or after delivery.

Muktar Aliyu, M.D.

Muktar Aliyu, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, will work as the principal investigator of the grant along with Carolyn Audet, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Preventive Medicine; Mary Lou Lindegren, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Medicine; VIGH director Sten Vermund, M.D., Ph.D.; C. William Wester, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of Medicine; Bryan Shepherd, Ph.D., associate professor of Biostatistics and Usman Gebi, M.B.B.S, FGH Chief of Party and adjunct assistant professor of Preventive Medicine.

“It is unfortunate that despite all of the scientific advances made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV we still see thousands of babies born with HIV in Africa every year. We hope this study will provide insight on the best approach to stopping this tragedy,” said the grant’s principal investigator (PI), Muktar Aliyu, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., He and his colleagues will test innovative methods of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) at the level of rural health centers in the Nigerian state of Niger.

Aliyu is program director for Friends in Global Health Nigeria (FGH), a wholly owned subsidiary of Vanderbilt Health Services, which will help coordinate the prevention services. FGH provides HIV/AIDS services in 32 rural health centers across North-Central Nigeria. Since October 2011, more than 22, 900 pregnant women received HIV services from FGH sites through support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The NIH grant, 1R01HD075075, is entitled Optimizing Integrated PMTCT Services in Rural North-Central Nigeria.

Read the full story in the VUMC Reporter.