IHRI is a non-profit organization
Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI), previously known as PREVENTION and SEARCH, is a non-profit organization, located in Bangkok, Thailand. With almost two decades of experience working in research and sexual health programs, the organization is recognized for its expertise both at the national and international level. IHRI provides advance clinical and implementation research on HIV and other health-related issues as well as strengthening the capacity of community health workers and health care providers, while fostering partnership with other health sector entities. We collaborate with governments, health networks, international organizations, local and international civil society organizations to address health issues in the region focusing on sexual health. IHRI is also a learning hub to translate evidenced-based, innovative knowledge into improvements of health policies and practices.
Conduct research and innovation concerning prevention of HIV and other health priorities
Strengthen the capacity of community health workers and foster partnership with other health sector entities
Be the center of education and research on HIV
Promote and advocate evidence-based policy change
Founded by The Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre with the support from Columbia University, PREVENTION was established in 2002 for the purpose to expand the prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) effort and joined the global MTCT-Plus project. The program aims to provide ongoing antiretroviral treatment, nutritional support, psychosocial services and patient education to HIV-infected families by multidisciplinary care team. MTCT-Plus is the ﬁrst program in Thailand to include social workers and volunteers in the health care working team.
SEARCH was established as a collaboration between the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre and the US Military HIV Research Program (MHRP) to conduct research into neuro-HIV and acute HIV infection. SEARCH established the first normative neuropsychological performance data for a Thai population.
With funding from AusAID Australian HIV/AIDS Partnerships Initiative (AHAPI) grant, PREVENTION initiated TACHIN (Thailand-Australia Collaboration in HIV Nutrition) project in collaboration with the Albion Street Centre in Australia and the Institute of Nutrition at Mahidol University to enhance the care of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Thailand by integrating nutrition interventions in comprehensive HIV treatment, care and support.
With the resurgence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Thailand, PREVENTION used funding from amfAR’s MSM Initiative to set up Men’s Health Clinic to provide speciﬁc services to MSM. The clinic provides STI services and anal Pap smear, as well as high-resolution anoscopy, to screen for anal precancers.
With support of MHRP and US NIH, the SEARCH 010/RV254 acute HIV infection cohort was established to describe clinical, immunological, and virological characteristics of persons with acute HIV infection (AHI). Volunteers were recruited from the Thai Red Cross Anonymous Clinic. Through the collaboration with MHRP, samples of HIV negative clients were screened overnight at the Armed Forces Research Institute for Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok by nucleic acid testing (NAT) to identify rare acute infections. Over the next 10 years more than 400,000 samples would be screened in which over 800 acute infections were identified. Among the clients with acute HIV infection, 80% enrolled into the SEARCH 010/RV254 cohort, the largest AHI cohort in the world, and received immediate HIV treatment. The first volunteers have been followed for more than 10 years and the cohort collaborates with 35 institutions globally to make optimal use of the samples and data generated. These collaborations have contributed over 60 peer reviewed and significant publications to the AHI literature. Until 2014 cohort participation was the only source for immediate treatment of AHI for people with HIV in Thailand.
With the strong believe in ‘treatment as prevention’, PREVENTION initiated the Test & Treat study for MSM and transgender women in partnership with the Department of Disease Control, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, to demonstrate the feasibility of this strategy. We secured funding from both national and international groups, such as the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, the National Health Security Ofﬁce, the World Health Organization, the Dutch AIDS Fonds and amfAR.
MAY : Though the original Test & Treat project was a success, the average CD4 counts was still low. PREVENTION later launched a larger project ‘Community-led Test & Treat’ with support from USAID through LINKAGES, FHI 360. The project aims to establish the Key Population Community-Led Health Services (KP-CLHS) model which provides a comprehensive platform for the reach-recruit-test-treat/prevent-retain HIV cascade led and run by community health workers in Bangkok, Chonburi, Chiang Mai and Songkhla.
OCTOBER : The National Guidelines on HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention recommended PrEP as an additional HIV prevention method for people at risk.
Based on the lesson learned from the Community-led Test & Treat project, we saw a need for HIV and other health-related program speciﬁcally for transgender community. Dr. Frits van Griensven initiated a conversation with USAID to start up Tangerine Community Health Center.
SEARCH performed the first HIV remission or ‘HIV cure’ study in volunteers recruited from the SEARCH 010/RV254 cohort. Volunteers treated since acute infection and with long term undetectable viral load have a small HIV-DNA reservoir and are deemed the most suitable candidates for HIV remission studies using analytic treatment interruption (ATI). Such candidates are rare globally and for this reason SEARCH and Thailand are able to contribute disproportionally to this field. Since then another 4 ATI studies have been completed at SEARCH with the support of US NIH and pharma sponsors.
A national “key population-led health services (KPLHS)” technical assistance platform (ENGAGE TA Platform) has been established with funding from USAID. The platform is working as a consortium with three leading community-based organizations in Thailand; Service Workers in Group Foundation (SWING), M-plus Foundation and Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand (RSAT). ENGAGE TA Platform focuses on institutionalization of KPLHS into national healthcare system through the establishment of nationally endorsed training curricula, a certification system, the legalization process and a financing mechanism.
SEARCH started a collaboration with the University of North Carolina to better understand the dynamics involved in cohort participants’ willingness to participate in ATI studies and in invasive optional procedures leading to new insights in cohort dynamics.
In June, 2019, the Thai Ministry of Public Health announced the legal endorsement for the provision of HIV services by KP lay providers in close collaboration with health care professionals as part of the national strategy to end HIV as a result of our collaboration with key stakeholders in the country such as UNAIDS, PEPFAR, FHI 360, Ministry of Public Health, The medical technology council, etc.
In March 2020, PREVENTION and SEARCH transitioned to a new entity “Institute of HIV Research and Innovation (IHRI)”, to work on HIV and other health related issues at a larger scope.
Institute of HIV Research and Innovation
11th Floor, Unit 1109-1116, Chamchuri Square Bldg.,
319 Phayathai Rd., Pathumwan Bangkok Thailand 10330