The “UFO Study”* is a highly successful prospective observational cohort study in young adult people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in San Francisco, California. In our most recent funding cycle we have continued to produce leading research on studies of acute and incident HCV, infection outcomes, including clearance of HCV in HIV-positive controllers, transmission risks, testing algorithms for acute infection detection, mortality, immunology and virology. We are funded to maintain and continue the cohort over the next several years toconduct new studies of HIV and HCV in young adult PWID.
Because of the expertise we have developed and the rich longitudinal data collected, we are now uniquely positioned to implement new tools, notably rapid testing and assess their effects on HCV and HIV prevention. We will continue our cohort of HCV discordant injecting partnerships, and assess whether HCV infectivity increases with level of viremia, which is frequently high during the serosilent acute HCV infection phase.
Finally, in collaboration with leading immunologists at Johns Hopkins and Harvard Universities, we will implement novel immunological studies on spontaneous clearance of HCV by sex, and on actors associated with reinfection, both outcomes (clearance and reinfection) that are not well characterized but hold keys to understanding protection mechanisms that can inform both treatment and vaccine development.