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Hiv research group

The Goulder Group focuses on the South African HIV epidemic. The group studies the inter-related roles in HIV infection of CTL escape, viral replicative capacity, the impact of HLA and non-HLA genes on disease outcome, and the evolutionary consequences of these events. A key research interest is in the paediatric HIV epidemic, with the unique insights this presents into mechanisms underlying HIV Cure and HIV Non-Pathogenesis.

Research Summary

HIV infects CD4+ T-cells, causes a decline in CD4 count and immunodeficiency, ultimately resulting in AIDS. An estimated >70 million people have been infected with HIV to date, of whom ~36m are living with HIV today. Approximately one-seventh of HIV infections are in children.

Our research work aims to:

  • Define the adaptive immune responses that are successful in controlling HIV (see Payne et al PNAS 2014; and reviews: Kloverpris et al, Front Immunol 2015; Prendergast et al Nat Rev Immunol 2012, Goulder & Walker, Immunity, 2012)
  • Understand the innate immune responses that allow HIV to replicate at high levels without causing disease. This we see in a small subset – approximately 2% - of HIV-infected children who are healthy and indistinguishable from age-matched uninfected children apart from running persistently high viral loads (see Paediatric Non-Progressor Study);
  • Investigate the potential for HIV Cure in specific groups of HIV-infected children: newborns in whom ART is initiated on the first day of life (see Baby Cure Study); HIV-infected children in whom ART was initiated in the first 12 months of life; and the paediatric non-progressors;
  • Define changes in the innate and adaptive immune response that arise over the course of normal development (see Muenchhoff et al, Front Immunol, 2014), that give rise to the so-called honeymoon period of infectious diseases in childhood, with high morbidity and mortality in the first 1-2yrs, reduced in childhood, increasing again towards older childhood and adolescence (an example being TB infection versus TB disease); and to define the sex differences in the immune response that arise pre-puberty in children that give rise to the striking disease outcomes from a range of infections in male and female children through childhood (see Muenchhoff & Goulder, JID 2014). To this end we are conducting a longitudinal study of 40 sets of twins we have enrolled in Oxford and 20 sets we have enrolled in Kimberley South Africa. 

highlighted Current Studies 

Paediatric Non-Progressor Study

Baby Cure Study


Our team

Related research themes