ATHENA cohort celebrates 20th anniversary

The Aids Therapy Evaluation in the Netherlands cohort (ATHENA) is celebrating an important milestone: its 20th anniversary.

The cohort started in 1998 as a three-year project and has undergone two decades of developments that have had significant impact for those involved including  people living with HIV, HIV therapists, HIV nurses and staff members.

The project was set up following the introduction of combination therapy in 1996, which was prescribed to a large number of people living with HIV. At the time, availability of these new HIV inhibitors was accelerated by the Minister of Health, but there was a fear that the combination therapy would fail because of drug resistance. As a result, the ATHENA cohort study was conducted from 1998 to 2001 to examine the effects of accelerated access among 3,600 people living with HIV.

The study proved to be highly successful: the combination therapy showed dramatically positive effects as fewer people developed AIDS and fewer people died from AIDS. In addition, regular treatment with combination therapy proved to be cost-effective. This research was continued and extended to include all people living with HIV, which inspired the founding of Stichting HIV Monitoring (SHM) in 2001, which now manages the cohort. AIGHD academic staff prof. Peter Reiss is the director of the organization.

Read more about the cohort and its history through SHM’s website.