( 31-10-2018 ) To the search for an effective remedy to combat HIV, the HIV Cure Research Center at UZ Ghent has made groundbreaking contributions. The HIV Ontrafelen Fund represents an indispensable link to enable this research work to continue.
As a progressive and pluralistic institution, Ghent University is committed to contributing via research to the exploration of solutions to social and economic problems. Through its HIV Ontrafelen Fund, Ghent University supports the UZ Ghent Research Center in its quest for an HIV cure. This still seemingly incurable virus persists as the world’s most deadly pathogen. Amongst the 37 million patients, only six out of ten receive treatment, while the number of infections keeps mounting day after day. This is also the case in Belgium, where an average of 2.5 people daily get the news they have been diagnosed as sero-positive.
During the past few years, the HIV Cure Research Center at UZ Ghent has made some significant advances towards finding a solution to this deadly disease. The research team operates under the guidance of Linos Vandekerckhove, one of the foremost HIV researchers in our country. His team succeeded, amongst others, to detect the absolute minutest quantities of the virus inside the body. In addition, the research staff is also focused on immunotherapy, gene therapy, and the development of novel measuring techniques to identify HIV.
To unravel the complexities of the HIV infection, this kind of ’frontier’ research is highly necessary. Ghent University is therefore pleased to be able to contribute its share in raising the needed financial resources to further advance the team’s work. It is precisely for that purpose that the HIV Ontrafelen Fund was created in 2016. Aside from serving as a fundraising platform, HIV Ontrafelen is active in creating greater public awareness about this disease. It disseminates information, promotes discussion amongst the general public, and lessens the stigma attached to its victims. In this way, the Ghent University Fund is the only one in Belgium that is totally focused on discovering a remedy for the HIV affliction.
More research needed
Every year, the annual HIV Ontrafelen fundraising campaign contributes significantly to furthering the Fund’s activities. In 2016 and 2017, this benefit drive resulted each time in contributions totalling 50.000 Euro. Thanks to this kind of support, the research team initiated a cooperative effort focused on the integration of the virus into the human DNA. The proceeds from the previous year’s event greatly facilitated the start-up of a new research line around immunotherapy during the healing process of the disease.
"Our HIV research has achieved a number of notable successes", says Linos Vandekerckhove. "Recent developments suggest the possibility of recovering from an HIV infection. Nevertheless, further research is needed to enable us to better assist HIV patients. As in the past, university research centres are once again being tasked to engage in pioneering work. The time is ripe for us to take another step towards discovering an HIV cure, and the funds that we receive via the contributions to HIV Ontrafelen represent an indispensable link in the process."
Benefit Evening 2018
The annual HIV Ontrafelen fundraiser is being held on 8 December at the ICC Ghent. The anticipated 1.000 participants will be treated to a ’walking dinner’ featuring dishes supplied by well-known Ghent restaurants and caterers. Dinner will be followed by a fashion show, musical entertainment, and a dance. If, as a Ghent University ’staffer’, you wish to support this HIV Ontrafelen benefit evening, your presence will be greatly appreciated. A ticket costs 65 Euro and can be purchased via the website of HIV Ontrafelen. Also, sponsorships are available: a 2.500 Euro donation will reserve you a table for ten guests with extensive logo display. You can find more information about this feature via karen.vervisch [at] uzgent (p) be.