Inter-CFAR Transgender Health Scientific Working Group

Writer: Alicia Diggs

The first inaugural Inter CFAR Transgender Health Scientific Working Group took place October 21, 2021. The working group uses a shared leadership model to work together across CFARs. The leadership team consists of Tonia Poteat (UNC), Will Beckham (Hopkins), Laramie Smith (UCSD), Andrea Wirtz (Hopkins). The team initially met to brainstorm on priorities for the Inter CFAR Transgender Health Working Group and what they hoped to accomplish as a group. They aimed to capitalize on the benefits of working across the different CFARs. They discussed three main pillars for the working group:

  1. Advancing the science
  • addressing gaps in data in trans health and HIV
  • addressing community priorities within those gaps with the goal of advancing the health of trans communities
  1. Community empowerment and collaboration
  • meaningful engagement with communities in equitable partnerships
  1. Networking development and strengthening
  • building a network of trans health researchers and community members to collaborate and strengthen relationships across the CFARs

The group also discussed communication strategies that would effectively disseminate research findings in ways that are useful and accessible to communities. JD Davids of Brooklyn New York and one of the co-authors of No Data No More-Manifesto to Align HIV Prevention Research with Trans and Gender-Diverse Realities, presented highlights from the document. The manifesto is a call to action for advocates, researchers, implementers, funders. Trans and gender diverse people are highly underserved and the data show that trans women are up to 49 times and trans men are up to 8 times as likely to be living with HIV compared with cisgender adults. There too few data on non-binary people to make an estimate of HIV burden. Trans and gender diverse populations have been overlooked in research. Trans women have been incorrectly categorized as cis MSM and trans men have been invisible. Given the stigma, violence, and marginalization faced by trans and gender diverse populations, they are less likely to receive HIV testing, start or adhere to PrEP, or maintain viral load suppression compared with cisgender people. The manifesto lists 22 recommendations that reflects a vision for trans-led HIV prevention research with true ownership in trans and gender diverse communities.

The full manifesto can be found on the AVAC website

The next meeting of the Inter-CFAR Transgender Health Working Group will be held on January 27th, 2022, 3:30-5:00p ET. The group will be discussing “Strategies for Community Compensation in Research.” For more information, or to register, please contact Tabs Faulkner (

Physicians address ‘increasing concern’ about effects of COVID-19 among PLWH – Healio

ada adimora headshotDr. Adaora Adimora, MD MPH, recently spoke to Healio about effects of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. She states that “people with well-controlled HIV have an excellent prognosis from an HIV standpoint. There’s very little information right now concerning the effect of HIV on COVID-19,” though comorbidities “increase the severity and mortality of COVID-19.” She also highlights racial disparities related to COVID-19, noting that “this is probably in large part because of the disproportionate representation of African Americans in occupations that put them in harm’s way for infection — for example, cashiers, factory workers and home health aides . . . prisons are another huge problem, given the inadequate implementation of basic pandemic control measures, such as social distancing — and often inadequate health care in these settings. People with HIV, like other Americans, are especially vulnerable in these settings.”

Read more here at Healio. 

In an effort to make childbirth safer, $14 million awarded to Jeff Stringer’s research team

Jeff Stringer, director of UNC CFAR’s International Core, is leading two studies to improve pregnancy outcomes in the world’s poorest countries. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $14 million to Stringer’s interdisciplinary team, composed of researchers from the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Gillings School of Global Health. Read more about this at the UNC Health Care and UNC School of Medicine Newsroom.

Eron Moderates New Video Series

Joseph Eron, MD, division chief of infectious diseases and director of UNC CFAR’s Clinical Core, was recently featured on Contagion‘s latest Peer Exchange panel. The four-part discussion, entitled “HIV Screening, Prevention, and Treatment Advances,” is available to the public here.

From the UNC Health Care and UNC School of Medicine’s Newsroom article,

 “This Contagion “Peer Exchange” panel features five distinguished experts: Joseph J. Eron Jr., MD, professor of medicine and division chief of infectious diseases at the UNC School of Medicine, as moderator; Eric S. Daar, MD, of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Ian D. Frank, MD, of the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania; W. David Hardy, MD, of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; and Paul E. Sax, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The first segment of this “Peer Exchange” series delves into a discussion on screening and prevention of HIV. In the second segment, the experts provide a brief overview of the current HIV treatment landscape. The third segment focuses on additional considerations for therapy, such as the importance of adherence to treatment and care. In the final segment, our experts discuss upcoming treatment options that are exciting for the HIV community.”

Reducing Stigma and Exploring Resilience Among Young Black Men

In a study published on January 11th, investigators considered of the digital resilience behavior of young, black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). CFAR investigator and assistant professor of health behavior at the Gillings School Kathryn E. Muessig, PhD, participated as senior author to this study, entitled “Stay strong! keep ya head up! move on! it gets better!!!!’: Resilience processes in the healthMpowerment online intervention of young black gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

The study focused on participants’ forum use of healthMpowerment, an anonymous online intervention system designed by Hightow-Weidman. Investigators analyzed conversations according to the four forms of resilience behaviors: exchanging social support, engaging in health-promoting cognitive processes, enacting healthy behavioral practices and empowering others. Their findings suggest that interventions based on resilience and empowerment may position black GBMSM to better combat negative stereotypes and social institutions that perpetuate HIV-related stigma, racism and blame. This is in contrast to preexisting risk-based frameworks that may reinforce stigma and negative stereotypes associated with this already marginalized group.

Read more about the study’s findings here.

CFAR-Wide Webinar Series: Brian Mustanski

For our January 2019 webinar, Brian Mustanski, PhD, presented “Don’t assume if you build it they will come: Two hybrid effectiveness-implementation trials of eHealth HIV prevention programs for diverse adolescent and young adult MSM.” In case you missed it, a recording can be viewed here.

Next month’s webinar is planned for February 25th at 3:30 ET and will feature Robin Lanzi and Pam Foster from UAB CFAR discussing the Inter-CFAR Faith Initiative Working Group. The 2019 webinar schedule and registration information can be found here.

Brian Mustanksi, PhD, is director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University, Co-Director of the Center for Prevention Implementation Methodology for Drug Abuse and HIV, and Co-Director of the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research. Additionally, he is a professor of both Medical Social Sciences and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Mustanski’s research focuses on the health and development of LGBT youth and the application of new media and technology to sexual health promotion and HIV prevention with young men.

CFAR Supplement Fiscal Year 2018

The UNC CFAR will conduct an internal review to select the four best candidates for Fiscal Year 2018 funding to move forward with the supplement application.

All interested applicants must submit for review the following:

Documents for internal CFAR review:

Brief proposal no more than 2 pages with specific aims and brief background.

Must have: One paragraph on how this supplement will be used as leverage for RO1 funding: the more specific the better.

Date of submission: Monday, April 2nd by 5:00 P.M.

Send submission to: Dr. Prema Menezes

Details about FY18 supplement opportunity for eligible CFARs:

The CFAR program would like to announce an FY18 supplement opportunity for eligible CFARs.  This year we have six scientific areas of interest.  Eligible CFARs may submit more than one application in any area BUT no more than four total applications per CFAR.  The Developmental Cores should review applications for feasibility and appropriateness of budget in addition to scientific merit as described in the attached announcement.

The NIH is interested in supplement applications from CFARs in the following scientific areas:

  • Basic Research on HIV Infection and Persistence
  • Infant Immunity for HIV Vaccine Development
  • Studies to Delineate Sex Differences in the Incidence of Heart, Lung, Blood, and Sleep Comorbidities in People Living with HIV
  • Formative Research on Behavioral Aspects of Novel Biomedical HIV Prevention and Treatment Regimens
  • The Evolving Opioid Epidemic and its HIV Consequences
  • Implementation of Evidence-Based HIV Interventions and Treatments for Health Disparity Populations

Please see the attached CFAR supplement announcement for more details on the above scientific areas of interest and NIH scientific contacts.   CFARs are encouraged but not required to support investigators who have not previously received a CFAR supplement.

The key aspects of this funding opportunity are:

  • Applications may be submitted for up to one year with maximum funding per application of up to $150,000 Direct Costs
  • Four total applications are permitted per CFAR
  • Project directors must be early career investigators who have never received an R-series research grant in HIV/AIDS or established investigators in non-HIV fields
  • Each CFAR should have an internal review process to submit the most competitive applications
  • CFARs with a high unobligated balance may be disapproved for supplemental funding – please include additional information per the announcement
  • CFARs in the first year of a competing renewal must contact program regarding additional requirements
  • CFARs in the last year of a competitive segment or in a bridge period are not eligible to apply but could collaborate with another CFAR
  • The deadline for applications to be received at NIAID is May 14, 2018
  • The earliest anticipated start date is 6/29/18 but may be delayed due to administrative issues

Please note that the number of applications that will be funded for this administrative supplement announcement will be based on funding availability, scientific merit, and program balance.  Applications must align with the NIH HIV/AIDS research priorities (NOT-OD-15-137).

Biostatistics Software for Analyzing Dilution Assays

Biostatistics Core Develops Software Tool for Analyzing Dilution Assays

UNC Center for AIDS Research Biostatistics Core graduate research assistant Ilana Trumble and former Core GRAs Andrew Allmon, Owen Francis, Pedro Baldoni, alumnus Dr. Joseph Rigdon, and Core Director, Prof. Michael Hudgens published a research paper in the November 2017 issue of the Journal of Immunological Methods, titled “SLDAssay: A software package and web tool for analyzing limiting dilution assays”.

In current HIV research, dilution assays are used to investigate strategies for eradicating the virus from latently infected cells in HIV positive individuals. This software package aids in the detection of the latent HIV reservoir by providing tools for analyzing data from dilution assays.

The R-package is found here .