A new NIH program focusing on HIV research will take aim at a particularly vulnerable area of the United States: the South.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will fund various collaborations with medical research institutions in the southern U.S. to test HIV prevention and treatment implementation strategies, the NIH announced.
In 2017, the South accounted for more than half of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., according to the CDC. It also has the highest overall rates of people living with HIV and HIV-related deaths.
According to the NIH, the new initiative will provide additional funding to ongoing research at NIH-funded Centers for AIDS Research (CFARS) — AIDS-focused research centers at academic institutions that conduct research with the goal of reducing the burden of HIV domestically and globally. As research infrastructure is already in place at these institutions, the NIH expects the effort to yield critical findings with modest funding, with each locality receiving up to $300,000 per year.
“The Centers for AIDS Research are our research boots on the ground, working in diverse communities nationwide,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a news release. “This new initiative harnesses their local expertise to design smart, innovative ways to fill the gaps in HIV treatment and prevention care that are pervasive in the U.S. South.”
CFARS in the South will use existing relationships with local health authorities, community-based groups, CDC programs and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to identify and evaluate strategies to help those living with or at risk for HIV with medical care and preventive services, the NIH said. These include the use of proven HIV treatment and prevention tools, including ART, pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis. Successful intervention in test areas could be applied to other localities.
Supplemental funding will be made available in early 2019 to CFARS in the following cities: Baltimore; Washington; Nashville, Tennessee; Durham, North Carolina; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; and Miami.
Disclosure: Fauci is the director of the NIAID.