Improving How We Prevent and Control HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections Worldwide
HIV is a key public health concern and major cause of mortality worldwide. Understanding what drives its spread is crucial if we are to develop more effective prevention and control programs.
Mathematical modelling—the use of computer-based simulations of how a disease spreads through a population—offers a virtual “laboratory” to help us understand what factors influence how a disease is spread and to examine various “what if” scenarios. Modelling is a particularly powerful tool for designing and evaluating HIV prevention programmes because it can provide long-term projections of their impact and cost-effectiveness.
Dr. Mike Pickles, Canada Research Chair in Mathematical Modelling and Global Public Health, aims to develop innovative mathematical models that describe the challenges of treating and preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These data-driven models will draw on knowledge from epidemiology and health sciences to help understand the complex interactions between social, individual and biological factors and how these interactions influence the HIV epidemic, both in Canada and globally.
With a better quantitative understanding of these factors, it may be possible to design better prevention programs to address them. The work done by Pickles and his research team will have a significant impact on global public health by enabling policy-makers to tailor HIV/STI prevention programs to ensure they maximize health benefits and are as cost-effective possible.