Dr. Alain Amstutz, MD

Postdoctoral Scientific Collaborator

Organisational Entity

Alain Amstutz is a physician researcher with a focus on clinical HIV research in Southern Africa, mainly Lesotho. He is currently enrolled in a PhD (Clinical Research) at the University of Basel & the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, funded through the SNSF/SAMW MD-PhD program (Project link).

He has a major coordinating role of two randomized clinical trials: i) Optimizing the current viral load threshold for defining HIV treatment failure (SESOTHO protocol / SESOTHO project page) and ii) Assessing decentralized community-based HIV testing, antiretroviral treatment initiation and sustained access to treatment in rural Lesotho (GET ON webpage / VIBRA project page). He is also the Principal investigator of a cluster-randomized trial assessing a novel model of care for adolescents living with HIV in Lesotho, funded through a grant from the International AIDS Society (PEBRA funding / PEBRA protocol / PEBRA webpage / PEBRA project page)

The research projects are part of the International HIV and Chronic Disease Care group led by Prof. Dr. Niklaus Labhardt, developed and implemented together with all partners of the research consortium: Swiss TPH, local Ministry of Health in the study districts, University of Basel and SolidarMed (Swiss NGO for Health in Africa, active in Lesotho for over 50 years).

He has been living in Lesotho for more than three years, and has fallen in love with the country and its people.


Grants / Awards

  • 09/2019 - Grantee of the alternative HEMMI prize (10’000 CHF)
  • 04/2018 - Grantee of the 2018 CIPHER grant by the International AIDS Society (150’000 USD): GET ON IT (GETting tOwards Ninety In Teens) A two-part research project with one cluster-randomized controlled trial assessing targeted interventions to reach the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets among HIV-positive adolescents and young adults in rural Lesotho, Southern Africa.
  • 07/2017 - Grantee of the 3-year MD-PhD program by SNSF/SAMW (180’000 CHF): Supporting Lesotho on the way towards the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets: Operational and clinical research addressing HIV/AIDS care in resource-limited settings
  • 07/2017 - Grantee of AlumniMedizin Basel award (20’000 CHF)
  • 05/2017 - Grantee of the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation (39’500 CHF)


Amstutz A, Brown J.A, Ringera I, Muhairwe J, Lejone T.I, Klimkait T, Glass T.R, Labhardt N.D. Engagement in care, viral suppression, drug resistance and reasons for non-engagement after home-based same-day ART initiation in Lesotho: a two-year follow-up of the CASCADE trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;71(10):2608-2614. DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciz1126

Amstutz A, Kopo M, Lejone T.I, Khesa L, Kao M, Muhairwe J, Glass T.R, Labhardt N.D. "If it is left, it becomes easy for me to get tested": use of oral self-tests and community health workers to maximize the potential of home-based HIV testing among adolescents in Lesotho. J Int AIDS Soc. 2020;23(Suppl. 5):e25563. DOI: 10.1002/jia2.25563

Amstutz A, Nsakala B.L, Cheleboi M, Lejone T.I, Hobbins M.A, Battegay M, Klimkait T, Labhardt N.D. Low rates of active hepatitis B and C infections among adults and children living with HIV and taking antiretroviral therapy: a multicenter screening study in Lesotho. J Med Virol. 2020;92:3857–3861. DOI: 10.1002/jmv.25970

Amstutz A, Nsakala B.L, Vanobberghen F, Muhairwe J, Glass T.R, Namane T, Mpholo T, Battegay M, Klimkait T, Labhardt N.D. Switch to second-line versus continued first-line antiretroviral therapy for patients with low-level HIV-1 viremia: an open-label randomized controlled trial in Lesotho. PLoS Med. 2020;17(9):e1003325. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003325

Lejone T.I, Kopo M, Bachmann N, Brown J.A, Glass T.R, Muhairwe J, Matsela T, Scherrer R, Chere L, Namane T, Labhardt N.D, Amstutz A. PEBRA trial - effect of a peer-educator coordinated preference-based ART service delivery model on viral suppression among adolescents and young adults living with HIV: protocol of a cluster-randomized clinical trial in rural Lesotho. BMC Public Health. 2020;20(1):425. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-08535-6

Amstutz A, Lejone T.I, Khesa L, Muhairwe J, Nsakala B.L, Tlali K, Bresser M, Tediosi F, Kopo M, Kao M, Klimkait T, Battegay M, Glass T.R, Labhardt N.D. VIBRA trial - effect of village-based refill of ART following home-based same-day ART initiation vs clinic-based ART refill on viral suppression among individuals living with HIV: protocol of a cluster-randomized clinical trial in rural Lesotho. Trials. 2019;20:522. DOI: 10.1186/s13063-019-3510-5

Amstutz A, Lejone T.I, Khesa L, Muhairwe J, Nsakala B.L, Tlali K, Bresser M, Vanobberghen F, Kopo M, Kao M, Klimkait T, Battegay M, Labhardt N.D, Glass T.R. The HOSENG trial - effect of the provision of oral self-testing for absent and refusing individuals during a door-to-door HIV-testing campaign on testing coverage: protocol of a cluster-randomized clinical trial in rural Lesotho. Trials. 2019;20:496. DOI: 10.1186/s13063-019-3469-2

Glass T.R, Motaboli L, Nsakala B, Lerotholi M, Vanobberghen F, Amstutz A, Lejone T.I, Muhairwe J, Klimkait T, Labhardt N.D. The viral load monitoring cascade in a resource-limited setting: a prospective multicentre cohort study after introduction of routine viral load monitoring in rural Lesotho. PLoS One. 2019;14(8):e0220337. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220337

Labhardt N.D, Ringera I, Lejone T.I, Amstutz A, Klimkait T, Muhairwe J, Glass T.R. Effect and cost of two successive home visits to increase HIV testing coverage: a prospective study in Lesotho, Southern Africa. BMC Public Health. 2019;19:1441. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-7784-z

Amstutz A, Nsakala B.L, Vanobberghen F, Muhairwe J, Glass T.R, Achieng B, Sepeka M, Tlali K, Sao L, Thin K, Klimkait T, Battegay M, Labhardt N.D. SESOTHO trial ("Switch Either near Suppression Or THOusand") - switch to second-line versus WHO-guided standard of care for unsuppressed patients on first-line ART with viremia below 1000 copies/mL: protocol of a multicenter, parallel-group, open-label, r. BMC Infect Dis. 2018;18:76. DOI: 10.1186/s12879-018-2979-y

Labhardt N.D, Ringera I, Lejone T.I, Klimkait T, Muhairwe J, Amstutz A, Glass T.R. Effect of offering same-day ART vs usual health facility referral during home-based HIV testing on linkage to care and viral suppression among adults with HIV in Lesotho: the CASCADE randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2018;319(11):1103-1112. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.1818