Dr. Louise Kuhn is an epidemiologist, who has developed and manages an active research program primarily focused on aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Her work is focused on mother-to-child HIV transmission, particularly in the international arena. Central to her research endeavors is focus on translation of scientific findings into effective HIV prevention and treatment programs in low resource settings.
Perinatal HIV studies
Dr. Kuhn is conducting research to elucidate biologic factors associated with mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Better understanding of vulnerability to infection and resistance to transmission may assist with development of better interventions to prevent transmission, including vaccines. Studies are also underway to identify why some infected children progress more rapidly than others and are more difficult to treat.
Selected Global Activities:
Zambia Exclusive Breastfeeding Study
Breastfeeding poses a scientific and programmatic challenge to those concerned with global health. While the benefits of breastfeeding in the absence of HIV are many, and include substantial reductions in diarrheal and respiratory disease morbidity and mortality for infants and young children, the practice may transmit HIV infection. Thus in the face of the HIV epidemic, breastfeeding is both a protector of and a hazard for infant health in low resource settings. Research is underway among HIV-positive mothers and their infants in Lusaka, Zambia, to better understand postnatal HIV transmission and how to prevent it. As part of the study, we are investigating exclusive breastfeeding and early cessation of breastfeeding as a means of reducing HIV transmission without compromising other aspects of child health.
Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission
Most infants born to HIV-positive mothers do not acquire infection, even in the absence of any interventions. We are conducting studies of possible immunologic and genetic factors that might explain this protection against infection observed in some of these at risk children. Better understanding of these processes may assist with the development of vaccines against HIV.
Countries: South Africa
Nevirapine Resistance (NEVEREST)
Nevirapine is a simple and effective intervention to prevent mother to child HIV transmission but may select for drug resistant virus among mothers and children. The longer term consequences of resistance are unknown. We are investigating the effects of resistance on treatment response among adults and children in South Africa to find ways to optimize prevention and treatment protocols.
Countries: South Africa