CASCADE was established in 1997 as a collaboration between the investigators of European cohorts of people with well-estimated dates of HIV seroconversion known as seroconverters.
Working as a network of epidemiologists, statisticians, virologists, and clinicians from lead HIV institutions in 15 European countries as well as Australia, Canada, and Africa, CASCADE constitutes more than 21,000 HIV-infected individuals drawn from over 300 clinics.
CASCADE’s main aim is to monitor newly-infected individuals and those already enrolled in studies, covering the entire duration of HIV infection. Seroconverters are recruited into the individual cohorts locally and nationally and are typically followed up for life. Through pooling data from so many different cohorts, CASCADE has been able to address issues which cannot be reliably addressed from single studies alone.
Follow-up data from seroconverters are valuable in being able to allow us to relate events to the same time since an individual first became infected with HIV. Seroconverters thus provide a unique opportunity to study HIV throughout its whole infection period, to enable researchers to examine the characteristics of recently-acquired HIV infection in the population and changes over time.
CASCADE’s aims focus on identification of early HIV infection and research questions requiring knowledge of the time of seroconversion. Specifically, the network aims to identify and characterise newly-acquired infection, its contribution to the propagation of the epidemic, and to monitor short and long-term outcome and their determinants, especially in terms of the host, HIV, and the relationship between the two.