Dr. Martin Casapia Morales, Site Leader
Association Civil Selva Amazónica CRS, Iquitos, Peru
Seventeen years ago there were many cases of HIV in Iquitos, Peru, and very little information on prevention and treatment. Although the HIV incidence has not changed much in Iquitos, there is hope that prevention and research will yield concrete results.
Association Civil Selva Amazónica (ACSA) wanted to contribute to the health of the population of the Loreto region, specifically with infectious diseases and particularly HIV infection control and prevention. For that reason, Dr. Martin Casapía Morales, Principal Investigator of ACSA, developed a local research site to implement studies that contribute information to prevent HIV infection. The site also supports the efforts of Dr. Jorge Sanchez, who leads a research center in Lima.
The first study they conducted was preparatory to assess the incidence of HIV locally, given the high number of cases reported in Iquitos which represented a significant public health problem. In this preparatory study, they demonstrated that they were able to meet people and enroll them in a research study. This was important because Iquitos has the third largest number of new HIV cases in Peru, following Lima and Callao.
With formal training as a specialist in infectious and tropical diseases, Dr. Martin Casapía Morales has held the roles of Investigator of Record and Principal Investigator, and is now the Clinical Research Site Leader. The ACSA site started by conducting basic studies with small numbers of participants, but today it manages studies with 300 to 600 participants in different clinical trials.
Dr. Martin Casapia Morales started working as a general practitioner in Iquitos, initially seeing patients with HIV at the Hospital Cayetano Heredia in Lima. From there, he gained experience in the management of these patients and then ventured into HIV prevention. Dr. Casapia Morales believes, “Patients should not die, because we have the tools to detect and treat HIV early.”
Working with the HVTN is a great experience because it is an organized, systematic way to develop and implement clinical trials. "The Network has given me a number of opportunities to learn a lot in the clinical trial field. In addition, I recognize that we have the opportunity to interact and learn about new research experiences with diverse researchers, including those who direct the Network, and receive permanent contributions from them, which gives us security for good development in our work," he emphasized.