The concept of the IVVI was to develop expertise and capacity in clinical and diagnostic virology and to assess BBV infections in Vietnam. While the focus has been on BBV the capacity generated will certainly facilitate studies and research on a wide range of other viruses important in Vietnam and in S.E. Asia. The ultimate goal of the IVVI is to advise and inform health policy on the prevention and treatment of important virus infections in Vietnam

A specialised postgraduate training programme has been developed at the UCD National Virus Reference Laboratory aimed at training IVVI staff to a high standard in diagnostic virology, particularly in the area of molecular diagnostics and to introduce basic research methods. This is a twelve month MSc (MSc, Clinical and Diagnostic Virology) programme and to date, nine Vietnamese students have completed the training programme and have returned to Hanoi to work with the IVVI. The IVVI building was opened in 2010 and has already become a centre of excellence in virology in Vietnam. The IVVI laboratory which is staffed by the MSc graduates was accredited to ISO 15189 standards for serological and molecular investigations of HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B virus infections. The laboratory also has the capacity to investigate other existing and emerging viruses including influenza, measles and dengue viruses which pose epidemic threats in the area.

The IVVI facility is now an integral part of NIHE and recently this was named the Laboratory of Molecular Diagnostics to reflect this expertise.

Informing local and national public health policies through targeted research was also a primary objective of IVVI. To that end a large-scale epidemiological study aimed at characterising BBV infections in Vietnam was conducted between 2007 and 2012. Over 17,000 individuals from different risk groups were recruited to the study from North, South and Central Vietnam. In these studies, molecular diagnostic methods were employed to highlight the range of virus variants and mutants present in the country. Initial results are described in Studies.


Copyright @ 2012. The IVVI Ireland-Vietnam Blood-Borne Virus Initiative.


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Blood borne viruses (BBVs) are viruses which are primarily transmitted through infected blood and body fluids. This occurs through vertical transmission from mother to child and by horizontal transmission through sexual activity and injecting drug use, IDU. Three of the most clinically important viruses are the Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HIV infection results in progressive immunodeficiency ultimately resulting in AIDS. HBV and HCV can cause chronic infections which can lead to chronic liver diseases including hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).

One notable feature of all of these viruses is that they are genetically heterogeneous and exist as distinct variants or genotypes. These often have distinct geographical distributions, different pathogenic properties and in certain circumstances have many different responses to treatment. Thus in analysing the patterns of the infection it is essential to identify the genetic and molecular characteristics of the viruses.

Diagnosis of BBV infections is by serological and molecular testing. Serology is used to identify recent or past infection. Molecular testing allows the direct identification of the virus genetic material.  This can be quantitative (viral load) and is also used to identify distinct genotypes, variants or mutants. 

The global burden of BBV infections is disproportionally localised in resource limited regions. In addition to their associated morbidity and mortality, chronic infections have significant socio-economic implications. Hepatitis B virus is endemic in Vietnam with over 8 million people chronically infected with the virus, and this has resulted in one of the highest burdens of liver disease in the world.

The IVVI Building Ground Breaking Ceremony 2008

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