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October 20, 2014

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to Collaborate on New AIDS Research Project

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is one of six organizations that will collaborate on the new Supporting Operational AIDS Research (SOAR) project, a five-year global initiative supported by an award from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that provides up to $70 million in funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The SOAR consortium will conduct research to determine how best to address challenges and gaps that persist in the delivery of HIV and AIDS care and prevention, treatment and support services. The Population Council will lead the SOAR consortium, which includes the Bloomberg School, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the University of North Carolina, the Futures group and Futures Institute.

The incidence of new HIV infections worldwide has decreased by an estimated 33 percent since 2001, and the availability of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) has transformed HIV from a fatal infection to a manageable chronic disease for millions of people, according to recent HIV prevention recommendations published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But despite great strides in HIV prevention and treatment, the incidence of new HIV infections remains stubbornly high—approximately 2.3 million new infections occurred in 2012.

“Thanks to advances in biomedical and behavioral HIV research, we now have the tools to effectively prevent, treat and stop HIV transmission. But much work still remains to be done to realize their full benefit,” says Deanna Kerrigan, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School who will coordinate the school’s SOAR activities as well as inter-disciplinary efforts involving researchers from the Johns Hopkins school of medicine and nursing. “My colleagues and I are thrilled to join forces with an elite group of researchers to answer the critical questions of how to effectively and efficiently apply the tools we have to meet the needs of all those at risk and living with HIV around the world.”

Experts from the Bloomberg School, the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research and the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health will play key roles in designing a research agenda that will inform the strategy and implementation of improved programs and policies for HIV prevention, care and treatment. The SOAR consortium also will collaborate globally with in-country programs to share research findings and demonstrate how to apply them to utilize increasingly constrained resources to reach those with the greatest need, overcome barriers to program scale-up and sustainability, and improve the capacity of in-country programs to develop and conduct their own operational research agendas.

“SOAR will undoubtedly allow for significant progress toward the critical goal of an AIDS-free generation,” says Richard Chaisson, MD, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research. “We look forward to working with an outstanding group of leaders in the field of HIV research to meaningfully affect millions of lives around the world.”

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Media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Andrea Maruniak at amarunia@jhsph.edu or 410-502-3373 and Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or sdesmon1@jhu.edu.