Three, one-year grants, awarded by the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, will support research to prevent new HIV transmissions, treat people living with HIV, and respond to potential outbreaks of the disease.
“These funds will gather findings to guide future projects that when implemented, will measurably reduce HIV transmission and improve health for those living with HIV/AIDS , especially for those also living with mental health and substance use disorders,” said Steve Shoptaw, director of the Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services. “These grants will not only provide us with the opportunity to collect pilot data, but to engage community and agency partners, leading to more innovative and collaborative science that are needed to end the HIV epidemic.”
The funding stems from President Donald J. Trump’s stated aim to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. in the next 10 years. The president’s program, “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in five years and by at least 90% in 10 years.
The three funded projects are as follows:
A regional response to HIV eradication efforts in Southern California counties, led by Shoptaw, a professor of family medicine and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Under this project, UCLA will collaborate with health departments and residents living with or at risk for HIV in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Another project, led by Ronald Brooks, an assistant professor of family medicine at the medical school, will assess the feasibility of using apps, tele-health, text messaging and other digital technologies to encourage the use of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, among men who have sex with men and transgender women of color.
The third project will lay the groundwork for the rollout of long-lasting, injectable anti-retroviral treatment, a therapy under consideration for marketing approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and expected to become commercially available soon. Dr. Raphael Landovitz, professor of medicine in division of infectious diseases, is leading this project.