Established in 1996, the Botswana–Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative for HIV Research and Education (BHP) is a collaborative research and training initiative between the Government of the Republic of Botswana and the HAI.
From discussions in 1996 to the official opening of a new state-of-the-art laboratory building on the 1 December 2001, the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Initiative Partnership has grown into a fully-outfitted research laboratory and training center. The Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory houses epidemiologic and laboratory research for such projects as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and the genomic analysis of HIV-1C, the viral sub-type predominant in southern Africa. Research is also conducted on the design and development of an HIV-1C vaccine, and on resistance and adherence to anti-retroviral drugs. In addition, the Reference Laboratory plays a role as a training facility, building and expanding the professional infrastructure in Botswana through training the nation’s future researchers and laboratory technicians.
As well as conducting epidemiologic and laboratory-based research, the Partnership is home to the KITSO AIDS Training Program which provides health care professionals in Botswana the opportunity to enrich their HIV and AIDS clinical knowledge and practice. The Partnership is also actively involved in collaborations toward the development of an HIV vaccine. As such, vaccine-trial preparedness is underway, developing the infrastructure and community awareness necessary to conduct future, Botswana-based vaccine trials.
The research and training initiatives of the BHP focus on questions of epidemiology, virology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, clinical treatment, and social and behavioral medicine issues relevant to the epidemic in Botswana and southern Africa. The culmination of this research and training will be put into practice to develop interventions appropriate to stemming the epidemic, and its societal and economic effects within those populations most affected by the crisis.