China has implemented comprehensive nation-wide data collection on HIV diagnosis, treatment and survival of HIV/AIDS patients, and on participants in the drug replacement programs, which provides an invaluable resource for monitoring the programs and informing intervention strategies. However, China lacks enough well-trained research personnel to be able to analyze these large data sets. Therefore, the Chinese Centers for Disease Control (China CDC) and the UCLA School of Public Health (UCLA SPH) propose a joint two-track program to enhance the research capability of the China CDC, which is the major health research institution in China. The China CDC is now in a position to take an active role in collaboratively providing advanced training in research methodology. Therefore, we propose a two-track program in the China CDC and the UCLA SPH and a series of workshops on advanced methodology at the China CDC. Ph.D. trainees at the China CDC will spend their first year completed course work at the China CDC and their second year studying advanced data management and analysis at UCLA, for which they will receive a MPH degree from UCLA. They will then return to China to complete their dissertation field work. The UCLA Ph.D. trainees will spend two and half years completing course work at UCLA, then develop, implement, analyze, and publish a research study in China relevant to HIV policy. Faculty from both UCLA and the China CDC will serve on the doctoral committees of both the UCLA and China CDC trainees. Under the proposed shared training program, UCLA will support the activities at UCLA and the China CDC will support the activities in China, including the Ph.D. program.
China has created a web-based real-time national HIV/AIDS information system that contains seven subsystems, including HIV/AIDS case management, antiretroviral therapy (ART), methadone maintenance therapy (MMT), voluntary counseling and HIV testing (VCT), and behavioral intervention targeting high-risk groups. Of these seven, three large databases are actually dynamic cohorts, namely HIV infection, ART, and MMT cohorts. An electronic file is created for each diagnosed HIV-infected individual. This HIV/AIDS case management subsystem contains 440,000 records of subjects, the national free ART subsystem covers 160,000 individuals, and the MMT database contains records of 340,000 opioid-dependent drug users receiving MMT. These enormous databases are essential for monitoring the national HIV/AIDS program and for future planning, but are under-utilized. Unless the data can be analyzed by competent health professionals, it will be useless. China does not have enough professionals skilled in analysis and interpretation of large datasets, even though analyzing this data is an essential priority for improving the national program. The UCLA/China CDC program proposes to meet this critical need for public health professionals who can implement evidence-based effective public health programs to control and manage the HIV/AIDS epidemic.