Infectious diseases, HIV


Infectious diseases, HIV

Communicable diseases

The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS, the National Institute of Health in Italy) is at the forefront in the fight against infectious agents which, constantly changing over time, make it necessary to frequently update the priorities for action.

The ISS implements surveillance, prevention and control measures against emerging diseases such as those deriving from the spread of antibiotic-resistant biological agents commonly found in the nosocomial environment, and those transmitted by vectors, such as chikungunya, dengue and west nile.

Vaccine preventable diseases, though currently reduced thanks to suitable interventions, represent a significant percentage of diseases on which it is important to maintain high attention.

Viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, are a paradigmatic example of chronic infections that can result in degenerative diseases and even cancers. For some of them, such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HPV infection, a vaccine is available.

Finally, intestinal parasitic infections and echinococcosis, considered also among neglected diseases, are present in many areas of the world.

Regarding HIV/AIDS, although antiretroviral therapy (ART) has saved millions of lives it does not eradicate the virus nor fully restores the function of the immune system, and is challenged by late initiation and poor adherence to treatment.

In order to stop the HIV epidemic and assure a better expectancy/quality of life to people living with HIV (about 38 million worldwide, 20.6 million of which in Africa), the ISS develops surveillance, prevention and treatment strategies, coordinating with the National Health Service and the Italian Regions, as well as developing countries and international bodies.

The main objectives are:

  • to  asses and surveil the spread of HIV variants and co-infections in Italy, particularly in vulnerable populations
  • to study the mechanisms of HIV infection, AIDS development and HIV-associated diseases
  • to facilitate adherence to treatment by improving ART effectiveness while reducing drugs side effects
  • to develop novel strategies to prevent HIV infection, reduce the progression to AIDS, combat co-morbidities,  and to intensify ART (with focus on  preventative and therapeutic vaccines)

Centro Operativo AIDS

Il Centro Operativo AIDS (COA) dell’ISS è stato istituito con decreto del Ministero della Sanità nel gennaio 1987 allo scopo di indirizzare e coordinare le attività del Sistema Sanitario Nazionale nella lotta contro l’AIDS.
Attualmente si trova all’interno del Dipartimento di Malattie Infettive, Parassitarie e Immunomediate dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità.
Il COA gestisce vari sistemi di sorveglianza. In particolare:
- il Registro Nazionale AIDS;
- la Sorveglianza delle Nuove Diagnosi di Infezioni da HIV;
- la Sorveglianza sentinella delle Malattie Sessualmente Trasmesse basata su una rete di centri clinici specialistici;
- la Sorveglianza sentinella delle infezioni da Chlamydia trachomatis, da Neisseria gonorrhoeae, da Trichomonas vaginalis basata su una rete di laboratori di microbiologia.
Il COA oltre all’attività di sorveglianza dell’infezione da HIV/AIDS e delle infezioni sessualmente trasmesse (IST), svolge anche attività di ricerca in merito ai comportamenti a maggior rischio di infezione (consumo di droghe e comportamenti sessuali non protetti), soggetti stranieri, comportamenti a rischio dei soggetti HIV positivi.


Infectious diseases


Infectious diseases, HIV