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)

Differenze di sesso nella risposta immunitaria alle malattie infettive

La risposta immunitaria è più intensa nel sesso femminile rispetto a quello maschile. Questo comporta differenze tra i sessi in termini di prevalenza, patogenesi, quadro clinico e risposta alla terapia delle malattie infettive.

Obiettivi dei nostri studi sono: 

  1. analisi delle differenze di genere nella risposta immunitaria alle infezioni e ai vaccini
  2. identificazione di biomarcatori genetici ed epigenetici genere specifici per la diagnosi e prognosi delle malattie infettive 
  3. individuazione di bersagli terapeutici genere specifici


Ruggieri A. Gagliardi MC, Anticoli S. Sex-Dependent Outcome of Hepatitis B and C Viruses Infections: Synergy of Sex Hormones and Immune Responses? Front Immunol. 2018 Oct 8;9:2302

Salvatore Rossitto, Maria Cristina Gagliardi, Elena Ortona. Tuberculosis control in Italy and gender phthisiology. Ital J Gender-Specific Med 2017; 3(1): 29-35


Centres Center of reference for gender medicine


Healthcare professional


Gender and health Sex and gender differences in physiology and pathology Ricerca Infectious diseases, HIV