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Title: Modelling HIV dynamics and evolution : prospects for viral control
Author: Roberts, Hannah E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6500 5961
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic is far from over. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is effective at suppressing viral replication within a patient but it must be taken daily and is life-long. Therefore, the development of a therapy that could induce drug-free remission or constitute a functional cure is a key focus of HIV research. In this thesis I explore three mechanisms which could lead to more individuals being able to control their viraemia in the absence of ART: (1) T-cell immunity, (2) early initiation of ART, and (3) viral evolution. Firstly, a strong HIV-specific T-cell response has been linked to rare cases of spontaneous viral control, but the extent to which this arm of the immune response contributes to viral control is debated. Several types of data are used to answer this question, including the rate at which the virus evolves to escape the CD8+ T-cell response. I study the frequency of incident immune escape in the largest cohort used for this purpose to date. Secondly, some patients, with characteristics dissimilar to spontaneous HIV controllers, are able to control the virus for years after the interruption of ART that was initiated early in infection. I use mathematical models to investigate a new hypothesis for the differing outcomes of early- and late- initiated ART. Thirdly, since HIV is a relatively new infection of humans it is still adapting to its new host. Recent studies suggest that the virus could be evolving towards decreased virulence at the population level. I study whether the widespread administration of ART has the potential to alter the course of virulence evolution and might result in a further attenuated virus. I conclude by discussing the implications of these results for viral control at the individual level and also for population level epidemic control.
Supervisor: Phillips, Rodney E. ; McLean, Angela R. ; Frater, John Sponsor: Medical Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HIV infections ; Biology--Mathematical modelling ; Mathematical modelling ; Latency ; Disease dynamics ; Anti-retroviral therapy ; Post-treatment control ; Epidemiology ; Virus evolution ; Infection and immunity ; HIV