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NIH grant will strengthen fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis at UGA

NIH grant will strengthen fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis at UGA

Athens, Ga. – Christopher Whalen, professor of epidemiology in the University of Georgia College of Public Health, will receive a $1.1 million grant to develop a program to help train Ugandan health scientists in public health or health services research.

The program will focus on the urgent needs to improve preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services for HIV and TB in Uganda and throughout Africa. This award is part of a five-year, $11.75 million award from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health that will strengthen the fight against HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in Haiti, Uganda and China and establish a new program in Tanzania. The award will be shared by several institutions.

“It’s a real privilege for the University of Georgia College of Public Health to be part of this international training program, as it will help build linkages with UGA and the schools of public health in Uganda,” said Whalen. “Furthermore, it will bring Ugandan scientists to the University of Georgia for degree and non degree training programs and allow them to study with world-class researchers and scientists.”

The five-year awards will train researchers and help close the gap between what is known about preventing and treating HIV/AIDS and TB among large populations in diverse settings where the two diseases often coexist.

Almost three million people in sub-Saharan Africa are on antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection through international efforts supported by the World Health Organization, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Clinton Foundation and others. However, for every person on treatment, an estimated 2.5 new infections occur.

“Research has identified many effective ways to prevent HIV, but these have not been brought into routine practice,” said Fogarty Director Roger I. Glass, M.D., Ph.D. “Despite these discoveries, many more people are being infected than we can put on treatment. If large investments in PEPFAR are to be effective, we will need to train a generation of researchers how to best implement HIV prevention programs and understand how to make them cost effective and sustainable for the long run.”

The International Clinical, Operational, and Health Services Research and Training Awards for AIDS and Tuberculosis program, under which the awards are made, is the flagship for addressing the new field implementation science, which Fogarty has made one of its key goals.

The program, which also operates in Brazil, Peru, South Africa and Zimbabwe, strengthens a country’s research capacity so that large-scale prevention, care and treatment efforts are locally relevant and effective. The research training involves a wide range of health professionals including nurses, midwives, physicians, dentists, health care administrators and public health workers. Fogarty collaborates on these grants with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health.