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  • Principal Investigator: Werner Leber
  • 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2022
  • Project No: 583
  • Funding round: FR3

HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are viruses, usually transmitted by blood or sexual contact, that cause significant illness and death in people in the UK - and worldwide.

Many people in the UK are infected but are unaware. Some are infected with more than one type of virus and suffer more serious illness as a result. Infections tend to affect the most disadvantaged people in the population, causing further disadvantage and harm, widening the inequalities across society.

Screening programmes can identify people infected and ensure they get effective treatment – but these programmes to date have been inefficient and costly, for example, offering testing to everyone in the population, and usually only for a single virus.

New and more efficient approaches to screening for blood-borne viruses are urgently needed.

Working with people affected by blood-borne virus infection, we are co-creating a programme to develop and test a new way to target testing to those who are most at risk of infection, and where needed, offering testing for multiple infections. This approach uses new computer ‘machine learning’ technologies that can calculate a person’s risk of infection accurately by assessing and combining many pieces of information, usually from their health record.

To do this we propose two phases of work:

A first DEVELOPMENTAL phase, to be funded by this research call, to pump-prime

a second, EVALUATIVE phase, to be funded through a subsequent research bid.

In the first developmental phase, funded by this call, we will:

Identify and summarise all the research publications describing existing computer risk tools for screening people with viral infections – to identify the features of the best.

Build on the best models to develop a new, more accurate risk prediction tool that can identify those at risk and target an offer to test for multiple infections.

In the second evaluative phase, funded by a future call, in which we will:

Test the accuracy of our risk prediction tool in different populations in the UK; then test the screening model in three or four general practices to test its feasibility, effectiveness and value for money.

Optimise ‘Failsafe’ methods work to ensure patient engagement with secondary care and treatment programmes

Finally, we will liaise with the government and NHS leaders to disseminate findings, prior to seeking funding for a large-scale national evaluation.

Amount Awarded:£104,000

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.