25 ways we're working to eliminate HIV

Burnet Institute

01 November, 2019

The AIDS epidemic of the 1980s was frightening and devastating for communities across the globe.

Burnet Institute has been at the forefront of the challenges of HIV since the early days of the epidemic. In this time, the global medical research community has come together to understand and mitigate the effects of this deadly virus.

Burnet’s research focuses on the four pillars towards eliminating HIV:

  • prevention and vaccines
  • testing
  • modelling and surveillance,
  • treatment and quality of life.

We have 15 working groups and 25 projects under way across these four pillars, each focused on a different aspect of eliminating HIV.

“The multidisciplinary aspect of our research and public health projects makes us unique. The commitment, skill and talent of our people makes us unique,” Burnet Director and CEO, Professor Brendan Crabb AC said.

The way forward

Elimination wheel

1 – Development of a novel HIV vaccine candidate.

Dr Andy Poumbourios and his team have developed a vaccine candidate that produces the right kind of antibodies to create an effective immune response to HIV. This is progressing to further trials.

Andy Poumbourios

2 – Monitoring HIV prevention knowledge and practice in Victoria.


3 – Using Optima modelling to maximise life-saving health initiatives.


4 – Pilot and phase 1 trial of a new condom technology.


5 – Understanding the vaginal microbiome’s role in HIV prevention.

The vaginal microbiome has a crucial role to play in preventing HIV transmission in women. Professor Gilda Tachedjian and her team are working to better understand this, to work out the best way to keep women safe fromHIV infection.

Gilda Tachedjian

6 – Preclinical safety studies of an anti-inflammatory microbiome metabolite.


7 – Development of an intravaginal ring to prevent HIV transmission.


8 – Development of a plasma separator device to test HIV viral load.


9 – Implementation of the VISITECT® CD4 and VISITECT® Advanced Disease point-of-care tests.

Burnet is supporting the manufacturing and rollout of the innovative CD4 tests developed at the Institute. Now licensed to Omega Diagnostics for manufacture and sale worldwide, the tests have achieved the CE Mark for products sold in Europe. They are being rolled out in key countries this year, allowing people at risk of HIV infection to test themselves regularly.

10 – Testing the Burnet-developed VISITECT® CD4 point-of-care test.


11 – Testing and evaluating the diagnostic test Xpert® HIV-1 QUAL.


12 – Development of a point-of-care HIV test for infants.

Associate Professor David Harrison and his team are developing a test which tests for babies born to HIV-infected mothers, to test for antibodies made by babies, rather than antibodies passed down through their mother’s placenta.


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13 – Treatment with Antiretrovirals and their Impact on Positive and Negative men (TAIPAN).


14 – Supporting people to age well with HIV.


15 – Monitoring of the PrEPX project.


16 – Development of an ACCESS surveillance system for Myanmar.


17 – A toolkit for living with HIV in Papua New Guinea.

Working with international partners, Burnet is providing peer counsellors in PNG with a toolkit and extensive training, enabling them to give people living with HIV information that supports and improves their health literacy.


18 – Development of new potent killing mAbs.


19 – Predicting quality and potency of antibodies.


20 – Targeting novel sites on reverse transcriptase for HIV treatment and prevention.


21 – Working towards the elimination of hepatitis C / HIV co-infection – DARE-C project.


22 – Working towards the elimination of hepatitis C / HIV co-infection – Co-EC Study.

Hepatitis C virus infection is a significant health issue among people living with HIV and has been associated with more rapid progression to liver disease. Burnet is working across clinics in Melbourne to offer hepatitis C treatment to gay and bisexual men who are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Hep C

23 – Investigating drug-resistant HIV strains in Victoria.


24 – Starving the HIV reservoir.


25 – Developing new ways to treat inflammation and prevent early onset of ageing diseases in people living with HIV.


This article was published in the Spring 2019 Edition of IMPACT magazine. Read the full edition here

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Gilda Tachedjian

Head of Life Sciences; Head of Tachedjian Laboratory (Retroviral Biology and Antivirals)




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