FY18 internal CFAR Supplemental Awardees

Hisashi Akiyama, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Medicine has received CFAR supplemental funds for his research on "Contribution of persistently infected myeloid cells to neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity".  This study aims to understand the mechanisms and consequences of HIV infections of CNS-resident microglia cells, and help in the development of novel anti-viral and/or anti-inflammatory therapeutics to reduce the risks of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND).

Joshua Barocas, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Boston University Medical Campus has received CFAR supplemental funds for his research on "Characterizing causes of and factors associated with drug overdose deaths among people with HIV in Massachusetts".  While studies have demonstrated that People Living with HIV (PLWH) have a higher risk of overdose than individuals without HIV, little is known about the substance-specific contributions to this increased risk.  This study aims to understand the impact of opioids and stimulants on mortality in this high-risk group to guide public health prioritization, and answer key public health questions related to HIV and substance use.

Katie Biello, PhD, Assistant Professor (Research), Brown University and Angela Bazzi, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor have received CFAR supplemental funds for their research on "Rapid Assessment of PrEP Acceptability and need among Non-Urban People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) in the US Northeast".  Despite successful implementation of syringe service programs (SSPs) in urban centers, expansion of these essential harm reduction services in many smaller cities and non-urban areas, where opioid use and injection drug use has rapidly increase, remains limited.  In fact, in MA and RI, increasing injection of opioids, stimulants, and other drugs is causing renewed concerns about HIV transmission.  The acceptability of antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention among non-urban PWID is unknown, and intervention needs remain understudied.  This study will explore the acceptability of PrEP and identification of service-delivery needs among PWID in small cities and underserved non-urban areas in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Jun Tao, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Research) at Brown University has received CFAR supplemental funds for her research on "Peer-driven intervention promoting pre-exposure prophylaxis uptake among African American and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men".  Her study aims to address disparities among African American men and Hispanic/Latino men who have sex with men by using peer-driven intervention (PDI).  This PDI approach has been demonstrated to be effective in disseminating HIV education, expanding HIV testing, and reducing risky sexual behaviors among other populations at high risk of HIV acquisition.  A qualitative study will be conducted to determine components of an effective PDI to improve PrEP update.  The feasibility and efficacy of this PDI on PrEP uptake will be tested in a quantitative study.