How to visualize a paradigmatic change in HIV-AIDS research?

Published in Microbiology
How to visualize a paradigmatic change in HIV-AIDS research?

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Since it was published in 2017 [1], I have read several times the article of my authorship that I am commenting on in the special collection dedicated to World AIDS Day. Perhaps seeking to highlight the contribution represented by studying the evolution of knowledge about HIV-AIDS through the analysis of the gigantic and complex network of scientific literature on this subject, I failed to make readers see what really mattered from the research reported and that I briefly explain below:

  1. Dramatic changes were observed in the organization of the scientific activity on HIV-AIDS between 1993 and 1995 in terms of the emergence and disappearance of research communities. These communities were specialized in the study of various mechanisms of interaction of the virus with the molecular machinery of infected cells as well as in the study of the development of the disease at the cellular and tissue level.
  2. Until 1993, research communities focused on the study of the cellular pathogenesis of AIDS. Between 1994 and 1998, clinical research on patients with HIV-AIDS peaked in terms of documents per year, and from those years there was a drastic shift towards understanding the molecular interaction between the virus and the infected cell with a particular focus on the development of first and second generation antiretroviral therapies.
  3. These changes were observed through the identification and analysis of research fronts, which are particularly interconnected regions within the inter-citation network.
  4. The most interesting part of this research was that we could see an example of how biomedical research works as a kind of “cyber” sociotechnical system in which changes in epidemiological reality such as the emergence of HIV-AIDS led to the emergence of areas of research oriented to understand the disease. The research on HIV-AIDS led to the development of the first antiretoviral treatments, which in turn generated changes in the epidemiological reality (at least in developed countries) since it was passed from a lethal to a chronic disease. Finally, these changes in the epidemiological reality again impacted the priorities and the HIV-AIDS research organization. That is, our study showed a dialectical relationship between the epidemiological reality of this health problem and HIV-AIDS research.

I need only invite you to read my article published in Plos One.


1. Fajardo-Ortiz D, Lopez-Cervantes M, Duran L, Dumontier M, Lara M, Ochoa H, Castano VM. The emergence and evolution of the research fronts in HIV/AIDS research. PLoS One. 2017 May 25;12(5):e0178293. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178293. PMID: 28542584; PMCID: PMC5444800.

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