COVID-19’s interaction with HIV and TB investigated

02 June 2020 | Story Claire Whitaker and Nobhongo Gxolo. Photo CIDRI-Africa. Read time 4 min.
Prof Robert Wilkinson, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and director of CIDRI-Africa.
Prof Robert Wilkinson, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and director of CIDRI-Africa.

The HIATUS study, a research programme being launched by the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa (CIDRI-Africa) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), will investigate the interaction between the COVID-19 pandemic and common endemic infectious diseases in the South African context.

CIDRI-Africa will launch a programme of projects focused on understanding and providing information on the clinical presentation and pathogenesis of COVID-19 in the South African population. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the newly emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The “health facility-based observational studies to investigate interaction and overlap between SARS-CoV-2, M. tuberculosis and HIV-1 infections” programme will take place at Groote Schuur Hospital and the Site B Community Health Centre in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth.

Principal investigator Professor Robert J Wilkinson, a member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and director of CIDRI-Africa, said, “It is important to understand not only the COVID-19 infection itself but also its potential interaction with common endemic infectious diseases in South Africa, which are HIV-1 and tuberculosis [TB].”

As part of the HIATUS study, researchers in the programme of four related projects will invite hospitalised COVID-19 patients to donate small extra samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid during normal care procedures. From these samples, the researchers hope to glean a wealth of information about the pathology of and immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in people with and without HIV or TB co-infection.

The study will start once feedback from the Institutional Biosafety Committee is received.

TB and HIV in South Africa

According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2019, South Africa carries about 3% of the global incidence of TB. A 2019 profile of South Africa developed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS stated that 20% of the HIV prevalence in the world occurs in South Africa.

TB in 2018

  Global South Africa
Cases 10 000 000 301 000
HIV positive TB deaths 251 000 42 000
HIV/TB cases 862 000 177 000

 

HIV in 2018

  Global South Africa
Prevalence 37 900 000 7 700 000
New infections 1 700 000 240 000
AIDS deaths 770 000 71 000


As reported on the WHO COVID-19 Dashboard, 6 040 609 cases of COVID-19 have occurred across the globe to date. Of these, 32 683 (0.5%) have occurred in South Africa, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

There are grave concerns about the impact that COVID-19 might have in South Africa owing to considerable existing epidemics like HIV and TB, which may increase vulnerability to and severity of COVID-19 infection. However, the consequences of SARS-CoV-2 co-infection alongside HIV and TB are at present unknown.

There is an urgent need for us to better understand the clinical manifestations and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 in order to develop tools, strategies and interventions to stop the spread of disease and improve treatment within our unique population. CIDRI-Africa will contribute to meeting this need through the various projects of the HIATUS study.

 

“We anticipate these studies will provide important information on COVID-19 infection that will be directly relevant to African populations.”

HIATUS projects

In the first HIATUS project, the team will investigate the SARS-CoV-2-specific response of immune cells called T-cells and determine whether these responses correlate with disease outcomes. Results from this study could also provide the basis for a simplified test to assess viral immunity.

In the second project, CIDRI-Africa researchers will examine the role of specific pathological phenomena, such as clotting and cytokine storms in COVID-19. Cytokine storms are severe and potentially life-threatening hyperinflammatory immune reactions in which the body releases a flood of cellular signalling molecules.

Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, it is increasingly evident that there are also neurological effects, such as anosmia (loss of smell), which suggests that the virus may infect the nerves and brain. CIDRI-Africa’s team will therefore describe and characterise the prevalence, clinical presentation, biochemistry and severity of neurological COVID-19 in their third project.

In their last project, researchers will extend an existing TB close-contact study by including COVID-19 screening and testing in future clinic visits.

“We anticipate these studies will provide important information on COVID-19 infection that will be directly relevant to African populations,” said Wilkinson.


Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.


Coronavirus Disease 2019 updates

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March. This was followed by the implementation of a national lockdown, which has been in effect since midnight on 26 March and has recently been extended to 30 April. The intention of this drastic measure is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected.

UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.

Campus updates

 

Daily updates


Thursday, 25 June 10:15, 25 June 2020
Tuesday, 23 June 12:30, 23 June 2020
Thursday, 18 June 17:35, 18 June 2020
Wednesday, 17 June 10:45, 17 June 2020
Tuesday, 2 June 12:20, 2 June 2020
Friday, 29 May 09:25, 29 May 2020
Monday, 25 May 14:00, 25 May 2020
Thursday, 21 May 12:00, 21 May 2020
Wednesday, 6 May 10:00, 6 May 2020
Tuesday, 5 May 17:05, 5 May 2020
Thursday, 30 April 17:10, 30 April 2020
Tuesday, 28 April 10:30, 28 April 2020
Friday, 24 April 09:35, 24 April 2020
Thursday, 23 April 17:00, 23 April 2020
Wednesday, 22 April 14:25, 22 April 2020
Monday, 20 April 17:45, 20 April 2020
Friday, 17 April 12:30, 17 April 2020
Thursday, 16 April 09:45, 16 April 2020
Tuesday, 14 April 11:30, 14 April 2020
Thursday, 9 April 09:00, 9 April 2020
Wednesday, 8 April 15:40, 8 April 2020
Wednesday, 1 April 15:50, 1 April 2020
Friday, 27 March 11:40, 27 March 2020
Thursday, 26 March 18:30, 26 March 2020
Tuesday, 24 March 15:40, 24 March 2020
Monday, 23 March 15:40, 23 March 2020
Friday, 20 March 16:00, 20 March 2020
Thursday, 19 March 09:15, 19 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 16:00, 18 March 2020
Tuesday, 17 March 12:50, 17 March 2020
Monday, 16 March 17:15, 16 March 2020

Campus communications


Pre-paid data for UCT students 14:25, 22 April 2020
Update for postgraduate students 12:55, 20 April 2020
UCT Human Resources and COVID-19 16:05, 19 March 2020
UCT confirms second COVID-19 case 09:15, 19 March 2020
Update on UCT COVID-19 response 13:50, 11 March 2020
Update on COVID-19 17:37, 6 March 2020

Resources

Video messages from the Department of Medicine

Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19

The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.


To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.

Useful information from UCT

External resources


News and opinions


Statements and media releases


Media releases



Read more  

Statements from Government



 
 

In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”

 

We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.

 

TOP