UNC CFAR Spring 2017 Networking Event

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Congressman David Price

On May 8, 2017, the UNC CFAR Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Core hosted the Spring 2017 Networking Event. The theme of this month’s event was “HIV Research that Reaches Policymakers: Part I with Congressman David Price D-NC-04”.

David Price represents North Carolina’s Fourth District – a rapidly growing, research-and-education-focused district that includes parts of Orange, Durham, and Wake counties. He received his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and went to Yale University to earn a Bachelor of Divinity and Ph.D. in Political Science. Before he began serving in Congress in 1987, Price was a Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Duke University. He is the author of four books on Congress and the American political system. Price currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is the ranking member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Appropriations subcommittees covering homeland security, State Department, and foreign operations funding.

Congressman Price addresses attendees at the Networking Event

Congressman Price addresses attendees at the Networking Event

Congressman Price shared his perspective on how researchers can best focus their outreach efforts to inform policy makers about their research findings and shared personal examples of how he used research to inform policy.  He also shared the importance of having a broad viewpoint on health issues and working as a coalition to advocate for funding.

Following the talk, Dr. Ronald Strauss, Administrative Core Consultant for the UNC CFAR, moderated a question & answer session with Congressman Price and attendees. Attendees posed questions around the future of HIV research and prevention, with a specific focus on PrEP and HIV in the South. Congressman Price emphasized the importance of community partnerships and well-developed grassroots outreach efforts. Price discussed the value of seeking funding through the ACA to promote research and further inquiry in the field of health maintenance, diagnosis and wellness. A strong emphasis was placed on developing positive working relationships with community health centers, and Price encouraged attendees to think strategically about how we support the work of those combatting health challenges outside of the HIV/AIDS field. Congressman Price articulated that the most lasting impact is made when researchers work cooperatively to address health disparities. He encouraged attendees to connect with national advocacy groups like the Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) United, an alliance of stakeholders from across the non-defense sectors, to call for a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this event with Congressman Price in the fall!

The Role of Messaging in Reducing STI Transmission

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UNC School of Media and Journalism doctoral alumna Diane Francis ’16 (PhD),  co-investigators on a 2014 Developmental Award from the UNC CFAR, recently received the 2017 GEAB Impact Award for her work on the Role of Messaging in Reducing STI Transmission.

Women account for almost 25 percent of new HIV infections in North Carolina, with African-American women representing 71 percent of those diagnoses, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Condoms can prevent transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Yet young women, in particular, may experience embarrassment when accessing condoms. To improve condom access for young African-American women, Diane Francis, Ph.D., evaluated an innovative condom distribution and health communication initiative. Due to the focus on young African-American women, the study took place at an all-women’s historically black college/university (HBCU) in the state.

Dispensers featuring targeted safer sex messages were installed in dormitory bathrooms across the HBCU campus. The UNC-Chapel Hill Center for AIDS Research funded the initiative; project members were co-principal investigators Francis and Seth Noar, Ph.D., of UNC-Chapel Hill and co-investigator Deborah Fortune, Ph.D., of North Carolina Central University. Prior to launching the initiative, the team conducted extensive research to develop the messages that were placed on the dispensers.

Surveys were collected immediately before and three months after the dispensers were installed. Follow-up interviews also explored how students felt about the dispensers and messages. The initiative was found to improve perceptions of condom access and to support safer sex behaviors. The college plans to continue the campus program, even though the study has ended. Francis’ research demonstrates the effectiveness of initiatives combining health communication and condom distribution toward the goal of reducing HIV/STI transmission in North Carolina.

“Diane’s deep commitment to this project made it so successful. I am proud that her study not only contributed to the science in this area, but also changed the safer sex climate on a college campus in ways that will prevent AIDS and other STDs,” said adviser Seth Noar, Ph.D.

UNC to Test Injectable Long-Acting Implant to Prevent HIV

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have received a three-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a new implantable drug delivery system for long-lasting HIV-prevention.

Scientists in the UNC School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are developing an injectable drug delivery system that forms an implant that steadily releases anti-HIV medication over long periods of time.

The injectable formulation includes an anti-HIV drug, a polymer and a solvent. The three-compound liquid will solidify once injected under the skin. As the polymer slowly degrades, the drug is released. Efficacy of the new formulation to prevent HIV transmission will be evaluated using state of the art pre-clinical models developed at UNC.

Currently, a once-daily pill exists to prevent HIV infection. However, adherence to this daily regimen can be challenging for some people.

“This long-acting injectable formulation could provide a discrete and efficient method to protect against HIV infection and improve adherence, which is one of the major challenges of oral pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP,” said Rahima Benhabbour, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and one of the study’s co-principal investigators. “The formulation is adaptable to a number of drugs alone or in combination and can be fine tuned to meet a targeted release regimen.”

Read more here..

Summer Internship in CFAR Biostatistics Core – Application Deadline April 24

Summer 2017 Internship Opportunity at the UNC Center for AIDS Research

Do you want to use math to help the fight against HIV/AIDS?

The Biostatistics Core at UNC Center for AIDS Research is seeking a summer undergraduate intern, paid $11 to 14/hour, 10-20 hours per week. The Core helps design studies, analyze data and advance statistics methods for HIV research, at UNC and internationally. As a summer intern, you will have the opportunity to aid in statistical analysis and gain valuable experience in multidisciplinary research. Students majoring in math, statistics, computer science, or another quantitative research field are invited to apply. If you have R-project, SAS or STATA coding experience let us know! To learn more about our research, go to http://unccfar.org/ (Cores – Biostatistics).

Students from underrepresented minorities majoring in any of the above fields are highly encouraged to apply.

Application deadline: Mon April 24, 2017

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Eligible Candidates:

-Are currently enrolled undergraduate students curious about a career in biostatistics or medical research

-Have a keen interest in mathematics, statistics, and/or programming

-Are computer savvy, abstract thinkers with math training through Calculus 1

-Want to learn more about HIV/AIDS and are able to meet in person on UNC main campus

To apply, please send your resume, availability, and a list of 2 or more references (teachers or people you have worked with) to Katie Mollan: kmollan@unc.edu

If you have questions, please contact us via email.

PLOS Medicine Special Issue: Advances in HIV Prevention, Treatment and Cure

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The editors of PLOS Medicine are delighted to announce a forthcoming Special Issue focused on HIV research, along with guest editors Drs Linda-Gail Bekker, Steven Deeks and Sharon Lewin. Submissions are now being invited, with a deadline of June 9, 2017.

PLOS Medicine, the leading open access medical journal published by PLOS, welcomes submission of reports of high-quality research studies to be considered for publication in a special issue covering advances in the prevention, treatment and cure of HIV infection. This special issue, to be published at the end of 2017, will be guest edited by Dr Linda-Gail Bekker of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town; Dr Steven Deeks of the University of California, San Francisco; and Dr Sharon Lewin of the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital. Alongside research papers, the special issue will include commissioned content contributed by leaders in the field.

HIV infection continues to pose a critical risk to health in many countries, with 2.1 million people (including 150,000 children) estimated by UNAIDS to have been newly infected in 2015. Due to intensive efforts to diagnose and treat people with HIV, 18.2 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy according to the most recent estimates. However, given an estimated total HIV-infected population of 36.7 million at the end of 2015, a substantial treatment gap leaves many millions of people at risk of AIDS-related diseases and, if unaware of their status, likely to infect others.

For this issue, the editors are inviting reports of high-quality research studies with the potential to inform clinical practice or thinking, focused on:

  • State of the global HIV epidemic—large-scale epidemiological studies addressing important topics, including progress towards UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets and the status of key populations
  • HIV prevention—clinical research aimed at development of vaccines, drugs and biomedical approaches
  • Clinical and epidemiological studies seeking to characterize and improve management of HIV infection and co-morbidities
  • Scientifically rigorous and practically relevant implementation research studies focused on HIV prevention and treatment, especially in low- and middle-income countries
  • Towards a cure for HIV infection—translational and clinical studies aiming to achieve control or elimination of HIV

Please submit your manuscript at: http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/s/submit-now. The deadline is June 9th, 2017.

Presubmission inquiries are not required, but do indicate your interest in the special issue in your cover letter. Questions about the special issue can be directed to plosmedicine@plos.org.

2017 CFAR Developmental Award Webinar – March 28

The UNC Center For AIDS Research (CFAR) Developmental Core will be conducting a webinar on Tues., March 28th, at 9 am EDT.  This free webinar will focus on applying for and implementing a 2017 CFAR Developmental Award, and will address the application process, NIH requirements, necessary documents, and more.  Both domestic and international research will be addressed and questions are welcomed.  You may send your questions to us beforehand or ask them via text at the time of the webinar.

To register, email cathy@unc.edu.  We will send out directions on how to attend the webinar at the time of your registration.

MEASURE Evaluation: Translating Data into Health Recommendations

Zambia-Visitors-Sept-2016-02_with-banner-768x485By Kathy Doherty, Senior Research Writer MEASURE Evaluation

Health data are essential to understanding what is working in a health system and what is not. Data alone, however, are just numbers, unless transformed into compelling information products that communicate and lead to action to improve health care.

For the past year MEASURE Evaluation—a $180 million program housed in the Carolina Population Center at UNC and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—has provided technical assistance to 14 health professionals from Zambia’s Ministry of Health, the National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Community Development, and the University of Zambia. They spent three weeks last fall in Chapel Hill working on data products, such as posters, data dashboards, and trend lines, and then flew home, certificates of achievement in their baggage and a vetted health communication product on their laptops.

Take, for instance, Boyd Kaliki, a provincial monitoring and evaluation (M&E) officer with the health ministry in Lusaka – Zambia’s capital. He supports programs to prevent HIV transmission and uses the country’s data software to generate visuals that illustrate what health data are saying. For this training, he focused on merging data sets to discover why only 37 percent of HIV-positive women of childbearing age are using modern contraceptives.

He compared women living with HIV, who do use contraceptives, with other data and discovered that HIV-positive women with more education were more likely to use contraceptives, and that rural women were less likely to use them. His analysis led to three conclusions:

  1. The government should offer HIV testing, counseling, and treatment along with family planning services and incentives in rural and urban areas.
  2. The government should improve health education so women living with HIV understand how to take precautions for their health during and after pregnancy.
  3. The government should help families keep their girls in school, because education correlates with contraceptive use and delayed childbearing.

To learn more, visit the IGHID blog here.

CFAR represented at World AIDS Day Events Around the Triangle

Dr. David Wohl speaks on HIV Therapy at the 2016 Red Tie Affair

World AIDS Day, started in 1988, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, increase awareness, combat stigma, and improve education. Each year, the UNC Center for AIDS Research and the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases host a World AIDS Day Symposium featuring presentations by UNC faculty members, expert research and medical professionals, and panel discussions.

This year, morning session keynote speaker Michael Mugavero, MD, MHSc, from the University of Alabama spoke on “Ending AIDS in Alabama”. The afternoon session keynote speaker Elizabeth Connick, MD, University of Arizona, spoke on “The Role of the B Cell Follicular Sanctuary in HIV Immunopathogenesis”.

Attendees enjoyed a lively panel discussion on Access to HIV Care and presentations on a wide variety of relevant topics to the field, including “HIV Epidemiology” from Erica Samoff, PhD, MPH, North Carolina Division of Public Health and “The Role of the Immune Response in Curing HIV” from Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill. Allison Matthews, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill, spoke on “Crowdsourcing Contests and Community Engagement for HIV Cure Research: A Mixed Methods Evaluation” and Sarah Joseph, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill, shared information on “HIV in the Brain: Observations from Throughout Infection”.

The UNC CFAR was represented at a number of other WAD events around the triangle this year, including the Red Tie Affair at UNC and the Durham County WAD Commemoration.

In addition to the World AIDS Day Symposium, the UNC CFAR supported a variety of community events around the triangle. One such event was the annual Red Tie Affair, hosted by UNC organization GlobeMed, a group of students dedicated to fighting for global health equity.

The benefit gala united students and health professionals to engage in a compassionate dialogue about HIV/AIDS. The UNC CFAR was represented by Myron S. Cohen, MD and David Wohl, MD. Dr. Cohen, Associate Director of the CFAR, presented on HIV prevention efforts in 2016 and offered suggestions on how to continue propelling these efforts forward. Dr. David Wohl, Professor of Medicine in the UNC Division of Infectious Diseases, presented on HIV Therapy and the incredible strides that have been made in the search for a cure.

Proceeds for the event will support GlobeMed’s partnership with Young Love, an organization based in Botswana with a mission to implement life-saving sexual health education programs for youth in Southern Africa.

The UNC CFAR CODE office was represented by Office Director Caressa White at the Durham County World AIDS Day Commemoration. The event was held in Durham Central Park, featuring remarks from Michael Wilson and Virginia Mitchell, Chairs of the HIV/STI committee. Caressa White shared a timeline of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and attendees enjoyed artistic performances by TAKIRY Dance Group from El Centro Hispano and Voices from the Heart from Triangle Empowerment Center. Following a candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of those we have lost to the epidemic, the crowd walked to the LGBTQ Center of Durham for a group viewing of an HIV/AIDS-themed photography exhibit “I Still Remember” and reception.

Workshop on Microbial Genome Sequencing

December 12 – 16, 2016

Harvard Medical School

Hosted by the Harvard University CFAR, in collaboration with the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT & Harvard, and the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH,

The fee for the workshop is $350, which covers some of the costs associated with holding the workshop.

This workshop is open to all CFAR investigators.

 

For more meeting details, click here.

To register, click here.