CAIR, Russian researchers awarded grants from respective countries to collaborate on HIV efforts

July 12, 2017 MCW News - Yuri A. Amirkhanian, PhD, and Jeffrey A. Kelly, PhD, both professors of psychiatry and behavioral medicine in the MCW Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), were awarded a three-year grant under the US/Russia Bilateral Research Partnership on the Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS initiative of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of AIDS Research. The project is entitled, Social Network Intervention to Engage Community PLH to Enter HIV Medical Care. 

The funding mechanism is unusual because the CAIR role in the project is supported by the NIH, with a $597,000 award to MCW. The project’s Russian scientific investigators at Botkin Hospital/St. Petersburg State University Medical School are supported with a concurrent award that was made to them by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), the Russian counterpart to the NIH.  The intent of the NIH/RFBR initiative is to support bilateral collaboration in HIV scientific research between investigators in the two countries.

This project will evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that uses social network methods to reach out-of-care HIV-positive persons hidden in the community in St. Petersburg, Russia. HIV-positive persons in Russia are often not in medical care but are linked in their social networks with other persons who are also living with HIV infection (PLH). This creates the possibility of reaching PLH through their friendship connections with other PLH. The approach being evaluated in the study is one that delivers an HIV medical care engagement intervention to groups of friends who already know one another and can mutually support one another’s attendance, retention, and adherence to care.

In addition to Drs. Amirkhanian and Kelly, other MCW faculty who will participate in the project are Katherine G. Quinn, PhD, assistant professor, and Timothy L. McAuliffe, PhD, professor, in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at CAIR; Andrew E. Petroll, MD, MS, associate professor of medicine (infectious diseases); and Sergey S. Tarima, PhD, associate Professor of biostatistics.

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