The Raven Program


The HIV Reservoir Assay Validation and Evaluation Network (RAVEN) project, funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), will facilitate development and rigorous evaluation of the performance characteristics (sensitivity, specificity, limits of detection and quantitative dynamic ranges) of blood-based assays for detection and quantitation of HIV persistence by establishing a large and well-characterized repository of samples from ART-suppressed HIV-infected participants. Assay categories to be evaluated include induced viral outgrowth assays, molecular assays for plasma and cell-associated HIV DNA and RNA, HIV sequence based assays and immunological assays that indirectly reflect reservoir size. Apheresis collections are being performed serially on ART-suppressed participants in SF (clade B) and in South Africa (clade C). Cryopreserved PBMC, CD4+ T lymphocytes and plasma are coded into panels for distribution to academic and commercial labs developing or performing HIV reservoir assays. RAVEN will evaluate candidate ultrasensitive HIV detection/quantitation assays for HIV cure and related immunologic intervention research, including head-to-head comparisons of different assays that, once validated, could be advanced into prospective clinical research studies.