Yale receives $2.1 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant for HIV prevention in India

July 19, 2004

Yale University today announced that its Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA) has received a $2.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support HIV prevention research among high-risk populations in India.

The three-year grant will be used to conduct research on implementing structural interventions among high-risk groups in the four southern States of India with the highest HIV prevalence: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Structural interventions promote public health by altering the context within which individuals engage in health behaviors or make health-related decisions. In HIV prevention, such interventions seek to alter social, economic, political and normative factors that make up the risk environments for HIV infection where individuals live and work.

"We are pleased to be a partner in efforts to curtail the spread of HIV infection in one of the largest countries in the world," said Michael H. Merson, M.D., Dean and Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health at Yale and an investigator on the project.

The Yale team will collaborate in this project with CARE, an international field relief and development organization, through its India Country Office. The team will also work with other partners receiving support as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Avahan initiative to conduct structural analyses of HIV risk and assess structural interventions for HIV prevention.

CARE, led by S. Jana, assistant country director for health, HIV and development, is also a grantee under the Avahan initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is one of a number of non-governmental organizations working to implement successful models of community-led structural preventions for addressing HIV risk among populations hit hardest by the epidemic in the country, particularly among sex workers and their clients, who include truckers and injecting drug users.

The Yale team will seek to demonstrate that CARE's interventions, aimed at enhancing empowerment and decreasing vulnerability, increase healthier behavior among sex workers and their clients. The goals of the interventions include increased condom use, reduced prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, increased self-esteem and empowerment on the part of sex workers, and improved attitudes, practices and policies toward sex workers on the part of various power brokers such as pimps, brothel operators, bar owners and police.

"Using structural interventions, we can have a substantial impact on HIV transmission among many people simultaneously and often on other health risks at the same time," said principal investigator Kim M. Blankenship, CIRA associate director and associate research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (EPH) in the Yale School of Medicine.

India's National AIDS Control Organization estimates that at the end of 2003 there were 5.1 million, 0.9 percent of the adult population, living with HIV/AIDS in the country. It has also estimated that there were 520,000 new HIV infections in 2003. As in many other countries, the poor and socially marginalized in India bear the majority of the HIV burden.

"While it is clear that some of the most vulnerable populations have a relatively high degree of knowledge on HIV/AIDS issues, unsafe sex practices persist," said Blankenship. "This suggests that their vulnerability to infection rests less in their lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS than in the structural barriers that restrict their ability to act on this knowledge. It is these barriers, and other structural factors that need to be addressed to reduce risk and transmission. Structural interventions provide a means for doing this."

Other investigators on the project include: Trace Kershaw, assistant professor of epidemiology at EPH; Linda Niccolai, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at EPH; Jean J. Schensul, executive director of The Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Conn.; Scott Burris, J.D., the James E. Beasley Professor of Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law; and Douglas Heackathorn, professor of sociology at Cornell University.
CIRA was established in 1997 and is currently funded through a core grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. The Center brings together scientists from 13 different disciplines with the mission of supporting the conduct of research aimed at the prevention of HIV infection and the reduction of negative consequences of HIV disease in vulnerable and underserved populations. CIRA also supports research on legal, policy and ethics issues in HIV/AIDS.

Yale University

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.