Crucial Data Collection Effort Gets Under Way
March 2003—Representatives from 11 TREAT Asia sites recently attended the first training session on data collection and management in support of a nascent TREAT Asia HIV/AIDS Observational Database (TAHOD). Held in Bangkok, 13 January, the workshop was led by TAHOD's principal investigator, Dr. Matthew Law of the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
In many parts of Asia and the Pacific, information regarding HIV/AIDS, including demographic factors, disease stage markers, and antiretroviral options, is extremely limited. To fill this gap, TREAT Asia is launching an observational database that will gather anonymous patient data from sites throughout the region. The data will include core variables such as patient demographics (sex, date of birth, exposure category, etc.), stage of disease (viral load, AIDS-defining illnesses, weight, etc.), antiretroviral and prophylactic treatments, and reasons for antiretroviral treatment changes (treatment failure, side effects, clinical progression, etc.).
The primary objectives of the database are to develop capacity in HIV clinical data collection; assist in evaluating new HIV treatments; monitor antiretroviral and prophylactic treatment as related to demographics and markers of HIV disease stage; monitor toxicity to antiretroviral therapy; and examine HIV's natural history, including the relationship between access to antiretroviral therapy and disease progression.
In addition to facilitating a closer analysis of how HIV/AIDS therapeutics are being used in Asia and the Pacific, TAHOD will help establish a network of sites that can work collaboratively to develop new clinical research projects. Such research will play a pivotal role in defining appropriate treatment standards—standards that may differ from those that have been established in North America and Europe due to different body weights and other factors.
Clinical sites in China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand are each recruiting 200 subjects and will be sending data to the University of New South Wales to be collated beginning in May 2003. Said Dr. Law, "By monitoring HIV/AIDS in the region, TAHOD will provide invaluable data that can then be translated to more effective research programs and treatment delivery, and ultimately lead to saving more lives."