Global WACh

October 14, 2020

UW, Kenyatta National Hospital, and University of Nairobi researchers receive award to develop HIV screening strategies in Kenya

As prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programs globally continue to increase reach and effectiveness, fewer children are living with HIV, but a growing proportion has had HIV exposure.  HIV-exposed uninfected (HEU) children in sub-Saharan Africa are a rapidly growing population in need of care to ensure their optimal health and well-being.  Compared to HIV-unexposed children, HEU children are more vulnerable to risks of illness and death and may have poorer neurodevelopmental and growth outcomes.

Global WACh Co-Director Dr. Grace John-Stewart, is the Principal Investigator with Kenyatta National Hospital Pediatric Infectious Disease Researcher Dr. Irene Njuguna as the Site Principal Investigator, of a new five-year study funded by the National Institute of Health that focuses on the development of HEU children.  The study titled, “HEU outcomes: population-evaluation and screening strategies (HOPE),” aims to enroll HEU in Kenya, spanning from infancy to adolescence, to understand the challenges and health impacts of HIV exposure and HIV medication exposure on their health.  By engaging with woman-infant pairs, children, and adolescents, the study team can better understand how these exposures affect child and adolescent health throughout the lifecycle.  The team will also evaluate different models used for delivering screening and diagnostic tests for neurodevelopment, growth, mental health, and hearing in a programmatic healthcare setting.  The study’s findings can guide healthcare providers to use the best screening tools that detect developmental challenges early, resulting in better management and improved health outcomes.

The HOPE study is a collaboration of researchers with HEU study expertise from UW Global WACh (Dr. Grace John-Stewart, Dr. Anjuli Wagner, Dr. Sarah Benki-Nugent, Dr. Christine McGrath, Michelle Bulterys), UW Department of Psychology (Dr. Shannon Dorsey), Kenyatta National Hospital (Dr. Irene Njuguna), and the University of Nairobi’s Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Dalton Wamalwa) and Psychiatry (Dr. Manasi Kumar).