The “Microepidemics” study is examining the spatial-genetic clustering of HIV infections among males who have sex with other males (MSM) in Lima, Peru.
To address microepidemics we have been developing state of the art methods to identify recent infections, and treating these early infections as a way to prevent further spread of transmission. We hypothesize the social venues, such as bars, clubs, saunas, etc., may be contributing to microepidemics.
Using a mobile testing van parked at popular venues in Lima, Peru, we have tested over 500 individuals, have identified more than 100 individuals with infection, and have referred them to treatment. This “treatment as prevention” strategy based on the current microepidemic situation can respond rapidly to ongoing changes in local transmission.
To help plan for “treatment as a prevention” strategies, we have developed the Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool. This tool is not only useful for our HIV study — for example, to help target mobile testing at venues where there is high recent HIV infection among certain subpopulations (e.g., MSM, transgender women, sex workers, etc) — but can be used for other infectious disease applications where rapidly changing data are available on infection at specific sites that need to be quickly mapped to prioritize intervention activities.
The Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool is implemented as a web based tool, and is designed to be easily used by program staff with no experience in GIS or spatial analyses. It takes as input a site file, which has the locations of sites in the study area, and an observations file, which documents different levels of infection prevalence or incidence at observed at each site. The tool allows staff to select which type of venue they’re interested in targeting, and which subpopulation group’s infection rate they want to prioritize.
The Map’t Microepidemics Spatial Analysis Tool is available for free public use here:
The Microepidemics study is a collaboration with Ann Duerr’s group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Josh Herbeck’s group at the UW Department of Global Health, and Impacta in Peru. As a researcher with no previous HIV work, and a new collaborator, I am the Principal Investigator for the Microepidemics study — a NIH CFAR grant — which builds off of years of previous research conducted by Dr. Duerr’s group in Lima, including the ¿Sabes? study.