St George's, University of London

12/01/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/01/2023 03:03

The research team on a mission to end AIDS

Published: 01 December 2023

Researchers from the Institute of Infection and Immunity at St George's have launched a new international coalition of experts and organisations to tackle preventable deaths from AIDS.

Every year, an estimated 630,000 people die of HIV-related illnesses. Tuberculosis and serious fungal infections - including cryptococcal meningitis, histoplasmosis, talaromyces - pose a major threat to the lives of people living with advanced HIV (defined in adults by the World Health Organization as a CD4 count of <200 cells/microL).

End AIDS Action Group website launches

The End Aids Action Group, led by Dr Angela Loyse with operations run by Rebecca Gathercole, will focus on improving access to vital tests and medicines for people living with HIV and related opportunistic infections, as well as advocating for research and development into new diagnostics and treatment strategies.

The End Aids Action group builds on and expands the work of the Cryptococcal Meningitis Action Group (CryptoMAG) that formed in 2013. CryptoMAG focused on improving access to essential tests and medicines for cryptococcal meningitis, a leading cause of HIV-related deaths.

Although there's been significant progress in access to tests and treatments for cryptococcal meningitis over the past decade, the team say that progress in what is needed to end deaths from AIDS as a whole is still falling short.

To achieve the aims of the End AIDS Action Group, the team hold regular, informal webinars that act as important forums for academic experts, policy makers, funders, Ministries of Health, civil society and implementing partners to exchange key updates, ideas and solutions on ending AIDS-related deaths. Representatives from many eminent global health organisations underpin the work of the advocacy group including Médecins Sans Frontières' Access Campaign, the Fight AIDS Coalition, the Centers for Diseases Control, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa to name a few.

"We are proud to be launching the website of the End AIDS Action group to mark World AIDS Day. Building on the work of CryptoMAG, we still have mountains to climb in terms of breaking down siloes between the opportunistic infections that affect people living with HIV and ensuring access to essential tests and medicines. Together we need to capitalise on synergies to end preventable and unacceptable AIDS deaths better and far more quickly. Our approach is action-orientated and very much a 'coalition of the willing' to achieve this mission."

- Dr Angela Loyse, Lead for the End AIDS Action Group and Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases at St George's -

Professor Nelesh Govender at the University of the Witwatersrand and Head of the Centre for Healthcare-Associated Infections, Antimicrobial Resistance and Mycoses at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, said:

"The strength of the Cryptococcal Meningitis Action Group, now known as the End AIDS Action Group, has been its convening power. By bringing together people (and organisations) who are passionate about reducing AIDS deaths, we have found and implemented creative, innovative interventions."

Communities at the heart

The launch of this humanitarian advocacy group follows the recent milestone paper from the DREAMM Project, led by Dr Loyse. The study halved deaths from HIV-linked meningitis that causes up to a third of HIV-related deaths by working with local health leaders and healthcare workers to empower them to design and implement changes to routine care for patients.

Find out more about the End AIDS Action Group

Angela Loyse

Featured Researcher