The project currently being promoted by the Icona Foundation was born as a direct follow-up of the Icona study. The Icona study began in 1997 as an observational study conducted on a wide cohort of HIVpositive individuals. It is a study that incorporates various innovative elements. The Icona survey consists of more than 20,500 HIV-positive individuals enrolled between April 1, 1997 and December 16, 2006 by the 71 Centres operating throughout Italy and coordinated by 6 University Centres. The only eligibility criterion for participants was that they must never have taken antiretroviral medication. Icona was therefore born as a national cohort of subjects who were “naïve” to antiretroviral therapy.
Today Icona joins other prestigious European and American cohorts, with whom it collaborates on international research projects and represents the first wide-scale, multi-centre study experience based on the use of an IT network fuelled by and accessible to both basic research groups and clinical practices. Icona stands apart as the only cohort in the world capable of supplying reliable data on the impact of initial treatments on epidemiological, clinical, biological, and behavioral parameters:
In the end, ICONA is an example of a successful collaboration between private industry and public bodies with the objective of:
The results obtained in the first decade of activities in terms of scientific publications, nested studies, communications at international conferences, and collaborations with other international cohorts (Eurosida, D:A:D, ART COHORT, Plato, RDI) confirm the scientific leadership of the project and the potential of Italian infectivology.
Principal nested studies
Up until today, the Icona project has made it possible to obtain information on:
Since July 1, 2007, Icona has launched a follow-up to the previous project under the management of the ICONA FOUNDATION, which has acquired full ownership of the database compiled up to that date.
The ICONA FOUNDATION will be entrusted by Statute to the National Scientific Community and managed by a Board of Directors consisting of Members designated by the Rectors of Universities.
The potential of the project is therefore vast and diversified and may be further amplified by including the collection of biological materials for targeted studies.
As is known, the incidence of HIV infection is unlikely to fade away. It is estimated that there are 130,000-140,000 HIV+ individuals currently in Italy and that this number increases by approximately 3,500–4,000 new infections per year. Success stories of anti-HIV drugs have reduced the AIDS mortality rate from 100% to 8-9% - more than any one could have ever hoped for. Therefore, HIV infection today is now a chronic and treatable health problem, but unfortunately remains incurable. Individuals being treated number more than 55,000 and this number is destined to rise.
Numerous issues remain unsolved:
The I.Co.N.A. cohort, together with the Master cohort, has been and will continue to be an indispensable source of knowledge and interest for Doctors and Researchers, as well as for Institutions and Pharmaceutical Industries.
For this reason, the Foundation intends to maintain and develop this national resource in synergy with other national and international observational cohorts.