Dr. Kanmogne aims to improve AIDS care in Cameroon

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | March 13, 2012

In Cameroon, the high cost of antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV/AIDS makes the drugs out of reach for most people.

With the help of international organizations, the Cameroon government provides antiretroviral therapy to infected patients, but limited funds mean only about a third of the HIV/AIDS patients who need treatment get it.

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Georgette Kanmogne, Ph.D.
Resources spread thin

Government guidelines help direct these limited resources to those patients who are the sickest but often by the time patients meets these qualifications they have already suffered significant neurological impairment that may not be reversible with treatment.

UNMC researcher Georgette Kanmogne, Ph.D., hopes her research on the neurological effects of HIV/AIDS will allow health care providers in Cameroon to take into account any neurocognitive disorder caused by HIV when making treatment decisions.

Grant support

And she has help in the form of a five-year, $3.1 million RO1 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Fogarty International Center, a division of the NIH.

In this work, Dr. Kanmogne, principal investigator on the grant and associate professor and vice-chair for faculty development and resources allocation in the department of pharmacology and experimental neurosciences, works off a pilot project she launched in Cameroon four years ago.

The study looks at the neurological impact of HIV/AIDS among the local population and also in those with various subtypes of the disease.

Subtype effects

Cameroon is one of a few countries where all three known strains of HIV and 11 subtypes of the virus are found.

This study, she said, will help determine whether particular genetic variants of the virus are more likely to cause neurological disorders and toxicity affecting morbidity and mortality.

"It is important to determine the impact of such genetic variation on the epidemiology of neuroAIDS and disease progression and by doing so hopefully create another avenue for people to access treatment sooner," Dr. Kanmogne said.

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